The House Financial Services Committee
(FSC) Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee appears to be picking up the
pace in its investigation of alleged racial and gender discrimination at the
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Today the subcommittee voted to subpoenas two more whistleblowers who have
come forward asking to testify about alleged discrimination and retaliation.
According to FSC's press release, CFPB Examiner Ali Naraghi and former Bureau
employee Kevin Williams asked to be subpoenaed "in order to protect their
interests and guard against further retaliation by the Bureau."
The subcommittee has held two earlier hearings on the discrimination
claims. On April 2 there was testimony from
two whisleblowers, Angela Martin a current CFPB Senior Enforcement Attorney employee
and Misty Raucci a former investigator from the Defense Investigators Group who
claimed CFPB had what they termed "a culture of racial and gender
discrimination and retaliation against its employees."
Martin presented lengthy testimony at
the hearing about the discrimination she claims to have faced and about alleged
retaliation for filing complaints over that discrimination. Raucci, whose company was hired to
investigate Martin's complaint, said she had submitted extensive documentation
to CFPB suggesting a pervasive disregard for employee rights and that "the corrosive
environment of the CFPB workplace
was engendered by the bureau's
to uphold its own EEO policies."
In a second hearing on May 21, the
Subcommittee heard testimony from two subpoenaed witnesses: Liza Strong, the
Director of Employee Relations at the CFPB, and Ben Konop, Executive Vice
President of Chapter 335 of the National Treasury Employees. Strong said the Bureau had investigated
Martin's complaints on several occasions including hiring the Defense
Investigators Group to conduct an independent assessment. Their work, Strong said, did not even meet "minimal
standards" and the Bureau was, at the time of the hearing, still trying to fill
the gaps in Raucci 's final report.
Strong said that the Bureau worked very
hard to accommodate Martin's demands, paying her a monetary settlement and
twice essentially creating positions for her in two different divisions at the
same pay and grade, attempting to design each to Martin's specifications. She declined one, Strong said, and is now
dissatisfied with the other.
Konop testified that women and minority
employees were being underpaid when compared to similarly situated white male
colleagues. "To date, the Bureau has denied each of these grievances at all
stages, often using inconsistent reasoning, despite what I feel is convincing
evidence of low pay for numerous women and minority workers."
However, Konop said, in recent days CFPB Director Richard
Cordray had acknowledged for the first time that "there were broad-based
disparities in the way performance ratings were assigned across our employee
base in both 2012 and 2013. In
particular, Director Cordray agreed with the union's findings that there was a
"broad-based, statistically significant disparit in many areas, including
race/ethnicity, age, [and] bargaining unit membership eligibility..."
Konop said the directive retroactively compensates the
majority of employees harmed by the evaluation system and was a solid first
step in the Bureau's process of accountability.
In a press release announcing the new subpoenas Oversight and Investigations
Subcommittee Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) said, "When allegations of
discrimination at the CFPB were first uncovered, my subcommittee committed to
investigating these claims and providing all affected Bureau employees a forum
to share their stories of mistreatment by agency leaders. We are continuing these important efforts by
subpoenaing two more employees who have experienced both discrimination and
retaliation while at the Bureau. This behavior has no place in our government
and my subcommittee will not rest until we have exposed those CFPB leaders