Kraninger Promises Transparency at CFPB Despite Record of Stonewalling and Secrecy

Kraninger Continuing The Mick Mulvaney Tradition of Talking Loud While Saying Nothing 


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Reportedly, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Kathy Kraninger recently sent out an all-staff email laying out her leadership vision for the Bureau, including vows that the CFPB “will vigorously enforce the law” and “be transparent in its operations.” However, Kraninger’s pledge of transparency flies in the face of her record of caginess and obstruction, including her refusal to answer basic questions during her Senate confirmation hearing about the role she played at the Office of Budget and Management (OMB) during the planning and implementation of the horrific family separation immigration policy and her continuation of the unprecedented Mulvaney decision to bury theCFPB ombudsman’s annual report on student loan borrower complaints.

If Kathy Kraninger is truly serious about an open and transparent CFPB, she has an immediate opportunity to put her money where her mouth is,” said Jeremy Funk, spokesman for Allied Progress. “She can start by releasing the CFPB ombudsman report shedding greater light on the level of mistreatment and abuse against student borrowers at the hands of shady student loan servicers like Navient. Unfortunately, the same advice goes for those still hoping to hear from Kraninger about her role in shaping Trump’s horrendous child separation policy: don’t hold your breath.”   

He continued, “The more information Congress has about how students are being taken advantage of by Navient and others, the better equipped they will be to do something about it. Providing that information is the least Kathy Kraninger can do. It’s time to turn the page on the Mulvaney era at the CFPB of protecting predatory lenders and Wall Street special interests.”

In July of 2018, Allied Progress filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the OMB and the CFPB seeking information that would shed light on Kathy Kraninger’s record. The FOIA requests sought employment documentation, travel and reimbursement information, calendars, and a variety of electronic communications for Ms. Kraninger. OMB and CFPB failed to provide the requested documents, forcing Allied Progress to ask a federal court to step in.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: KRANINGER’S M.O. IS MAINTAINING MYSTERY

Kathy Kraninger Spent Most Of Her Confirmation Process Stonewalling Senators And The American People.

Before Her Confirmation Hearing, Senate Democrats Requested Documents Regarding Kraninger’s Tenure at OMB… They Received None Of Them.

Senator Sherrod Brown Said That Kraninger “Has Not Responded To Several Document Requests From Committee Democrats” Before Her Confirmation Hearing. “[…] she has not responded to several document requests from committee Democrats, and was evasive in her answers to questions at her confirmation hearing.” [Press Release, Sen. Sherrod Brown, 08/01/18]

Senator Elizabeth Warren Claimed That Kraninger Did Not Provide The Documents Requested By Senate Banking Committee Members. “Warren said in Wednesday’s letter that the answers were not sufficiently detailed and that Kraninger had failed to hand over relevant documents.” [Katanga Johnson, “Senate panel delays vote on Trump consumer watchdog pick,” Reuters, 08/01/18]

Then During Her Actual Confirmation Hearing, Kraninger Stonewalled Senators And Refused To Comment On Anything Substantive About Her Work For The Trump Administration.

Kathy Kraninger “Repeatedly Dodged Questions” During Her Confirmation Hearing. “Kathy Kraninger, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, repeatedly dodged questions from Senate Democrats on Thursday about issues facing the watchdog agency and her involvement in the administration’s ‘zero-tolerance’ immigration policy.” [Renae Merle,”Trump CFPB nominee grilled by Senate Democrats,”The Washington Post, 07/19/18]

  • When asked about Hurricane Maria by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Kraninger wouldn’t address her role in providing disaster funds as part of the response in Puerto Rico. When asked about the matter, Kraninger responded that she didn’t “‘think it was appropriate to characterize…advice’” she gave to the administration. [Nomination Hearing, Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, 07/19/18]
  • When asked by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) whether she had a role in implementing Trump’s family separation immigration policy, Kraninger refused to answer. Kraninger said she didn’t “‘want to characterize the advice’” she gave to the Administration. [Nomination Hearing, Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, 07/19/18]
  • Kraninger was also asked by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) if she thought that separating children from their parents deterred border crossings, Kraninger once again refused to answer. Kraninger said that she didn’t “‘want to talk about’” the policy and that she didn’t “‘want to characterize the internal conversations.’” [Nomination Hearing, Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, 07/19/18]
  • Kraninger also wouldn’t tell Sen. Warren if she participated in any planning on how to reunify children who were taken from their parents calling it a “slippery slope” towards characterizing her advice. Senator Warren attempted to ask Kraninger if she was involved in creating a plan to reunite children who had been separated from their parents. Kraninger said she couldn’t “characterize [her] advice” and said answering would become “a slippery slope in terms of characterizing the advice that was provided.” [Nomination Hearing, Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, 07/19/18]
  • Finally, Kraninger would not even tell Sen. Warren whether she thought tearing children away from their parents was immoral. Sen. Elizabeth Warren asked Kathy Kraninger if she thought it was immoral to inflict pain on children as “a tough deterrent” to illegal immigration. Kraninger responded saying there are “many heartbreaking stories that appear in the news,” but ultimately said it wasn’t “appropriate to provide her internal opinion on internal deliberations or discussions on this matter.” [Nomination Hearing, Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, 07/19/18]

When questioned by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Kraninger refused to even characterize what categories or types of advice she gave at OMB. Senator Brian Schatz asked Kraninger to explain “what categories” of advice she provided while she was at OMB. In response, Kraninger refused to give a straight answer, instead referring to OMB’s role in the policymaking process broadly, which she said “characterize[ed]” her role. Schatz then asked Kraninger, “Why the third person?” To which Kraninger responded by once again demurring noting that she was “responsible for [her] staff” and “provid[ed] advice to the Director. [Nomination Hearing, Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, 07/19/18]

Before Her Confirmation Hearing, Senate Democrats Requested Documents Regarding Kraninger’s Tenure at OMB… They Received None Of Them.

Senator Sherrod Brown Said That Kraninger “Has Not Responded To Several Document Requests From Committee Democrats” Before Her Confirmation Hearing. “[…] she has not responded to several document requests from committee Democrats, and was evasive in her answers to questions at her confirmation hearing.” [Press Release, Sen. Sherrod Brown, 08/01/18]

Senator Elizabeth Warren Claimed That Kraninger Did Not Provide The Documents Requested By Senate Banking Committee Members. “Warren said in Wednesday’s letter that the answers were not sufficiently detailed and that Kraninger had failed to hand over relevant documents.” [Katanga Johnson, “Senate panel delays vote on Trump consumer watchdog pick,” Reuters, 08/01/18]

Allied Progress Even Had To Go To Court To Try To Get The Trump Administration To Turn Over Records On Kraninger.

Allied Progress Has Had to Go to Court to Try to Compel the Trump Administration to Release Records on Kathy Kraninger. The Case Is Ongoing.[Merle, Renae, “Advocacy group sues for CFPB nominee’s work records,Washington Post, 07/25/18]

After Her Confirmation As CFPB Director, Kraninger Held A Private, Industry-Only, Swearing-In Ceremony, And Her First Press Event Was An Off-Camera Q&A.

Kraninger’s Swearing-In Ceremony Was Closed To The Public And The Press… But Not To The Right-Wing Heritage Action Or The Texas Bankers Association.

Kathy Kraninger’s Swearing-In Ceremony Was Not Open To The Public Or The Press. On December 10, 2018, Sylvan Lane of The Hillreported that, Vice President Mike “Pence will swear in Kathy Kraninger to be the next CFPB director at 5 p.m. today, per his schedule. The event is closed press and the CFPB did not respond to prior questions about its installation of its new leader.” [Tweet from Sylvan Lane, Twitter.com, 12/10/18]

  • However, Heritage Action’s Vice President, Jessica Anderson, Attended The Event.[Tweet from Jessica Anderson, Twitter.com, 12/10/18]
  • Chris Furlow, CEO of the Texas Bankers Association Was Also Present For Kraninger’s Swearing In.[Tweet From Chris Furlow, Twitter.com, 12/10/18]

At Kathy Kraninger’s First Press Availability, The CFPB Only Allowed Reporters To Record For The First Five Minutes Of The Event

At Kathy Kraninger’s First Press Availability Reporters Are Only Allowed To Record The First Five Minutes Of The Event. An announcement for Kathy Kraninger’s first media availability included the following ground rules: “Pen and pad Q&A with accredited media only. Members of the press attending must have a White House or congressional media credential. Electronic media will only be permitted during the first five minutes of the news availability. This includes still photographers and video.” [“MEDIA ADVISORY/Press availability for new BCFP Director Kathy Kraninger,” E-Mail From Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 12/11/18]

Trump’s CFPB Is Withholding Student Loan Complaint Data, Rendering Borrowers “‘Invisible’”

The CFPB Under Trump Appears To Have Failed To Fulfill Its Legal Obligation To Report On Student Loan Complaints

The CFPB Has Failed To Release A Legally-Required Report On Student Loan Borrowers’ Complaints Submitted Annually To Congress And Federal Agencies. “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau failed to release an annual analysis of borrowers’ top complaints for the first time since the agency started investigating student-loan complaints in 2012.” [Jillian Berman, “Trump administration refuses to publish required report on student-loan borrower complaints,” MarketWatch, 12/13/18]

  • The CFPB Has Usually Released The Report In October, But It Has Yet To Do So This Year. “The CFPB is required by statute to submit the report on the same day annually to multiple agencies and congressional committees. Previously the agency has submitted the report in October, but this year October came and went with no report.” [Jillian Berman, “Trump administration refuses to publish required report on student-loan borrower complaints,” MarketWatch, 12/13/18]

Meanwhile, The Thousands Of Complaints That Have Piled Up In The Past Year…

An Independent Study By “Former CFPB Staffers” Found That Thousands Of Student Loan Complaints Have Continued To Accumulate In The Time Since The Last Report. “Since September 2017 — about a month before the agency last published its annual analysis of student debt complaint data — consumers have submitted more than 13,000 complaints about student loan products, according to a report released Tuesday by the Student Borrower Protection Center, an advocacy organization founded earlier this year by former CFPB staffers.” [Jillian Berman, “Trump administration refuses to publish required report on student-loan borrower complaints,” MarketWatch, 12/13/18]

Kraninger Is Continuing Mulvaney Policy Of Burying Student Loan Complaint Report.“In August, the student loan ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau submitted an angry resignation letter. Seth Frotman, after seven years as that job’s inaugural occupant, was fed up with then-acting director Mick Mulvaney’s reorganization of the loan division in a way Frotman said favored companies over consumers. Five months later, after the bureau now led by Kathy Kraningerdeclined for the first time to release an annual ombudsman’s reporton student complaints about loan servicingboth from government and private entities, the Hoboken, N.J.-based for-profit student loan counseling group LendEDU is seeking to fill in the gap. The group released its own versionof the student loan complaint annual summary on Tuesday, using the same datapoints and methodology employed by CFPB.” [Charles S. Clark, “Advocacy Group Mimics Consumer Bureau’s Discontinued Student Loan Report,”Government Executive, 1/8/19]

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