Politics

EXCLUSIVE: Gravy Train Flows Wide And Deep At Elizabeth Warren’s Consumer Agency

Pay is flowing so generously at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that hundreds of bureaucrats there receive more than most members of Congress.

The Senate majority and minority leaders are paid $193,000 annually. Two hundred and one CFPB employees outdo Sens. Mitch McConnell and Charles Schumer in pay.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan of Wisconsin receives $223,000 per year, but that’s less than what 54 CFPB employees are paid.

Another 170 CFPB employees earn more than the secretaries of defense and state, the attorney general and the director of national intelligence. All cabinet salaries are capped at $199,700, but not at the bureau. Thirty-nine CFPB employees earn more than the $230,000 paid to Vice President Mike Pence.

A total of 198 CFPB employees also earn more than their ultimate boss, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellin, who is paid $201,700.

Overall, 449 CFPB employees get at least $100,000 per year and 228 CFPB are paid more than $200,000, according to publicly available 2016 data.

These findings are part of a Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group salary analysis for the consumer agency that was founded by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and then-President Barack Obama in 2011.  The agency was created under the Dodd-Frank Act to serve as a consumer agency protecting the poor against financial fraud.

Warren deliberately placed the agency inside the Federal Reserve Board. As a result, the salaries there do not have to conform to the pay scale set for federal workers at all other department and agencies.

CFPB spokesman Samuel Gilford justified the high salaries by citing Dodd-Frank’s section 1013, saying “compensation at the CFPB is set pursuant to the federal law that established the agency.”

“It’s ironic that the agency that is supposed to be looking out for the ‘little guy’ is actually padding the pockets of their own employees with exorbitant salaries,” David Williams, president of the Taxpayer Protection Alliance, told TheDCNF.

The top salary at CFPB is reserved for Gail Hillebrand, the associate director for consumer education. She received $259,500 in 2016.

Not only do CFPB employees earn more than most of America’s top leaders, but 240 CFPB employees earn more than all 50 governors. The highest current salary for a sitting Democratic governor is Pennsylvania’s Tom Wolf, who is paid $187,818, according to Ballotpedia.

CFPB now is an embattled agency with congressional calls for its elimination. Others favor sharply reorganizing it and removing CFPB from the Federal Reserve Board so it can operate like a regular agency with congressional oversight.

Unlike all other federal departments and agencies, Congress cannot set its budget or enact reforms at the agency due to the Dodd-Frank restrictions.

Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Financial Services oversight and investigations subcommittee, told TheDCNF that it’s “outrageous” CFPB continues to “use taxpayer dollars to pay themselves lavishly. This is just another reminder that the CFPB must be reined in and held accountable to the American people. The CFPB is one of the most unaccountable agencies in the federal government.”

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, called CFPB, “one more secret part of Dodd Frank, hidden away from the American people’s eyes.” Norquist said the Dodd-Frank Act is “Obamacare for the financial world. The fact that 170 earn more than sitting cabinet members and many more than the Vice President just shows how out of line the CFPB is.”

Paul H. Kupiec, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, compared the salaries of federal employees at financial regulatory agencies and found that most federal bureaucrats earn more than those in the private banking sector.

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Kupiec worked for a decade at the Federal Reserve, and later at FDIC, Freddie Mac and at the International Monetary Fund. He found in a 2014 study that federal workers “earned average total compensation that exceeded the average total employee compensation paid by 99.9 percent of all banks that filed regulatory reports in 2012.

“As a group, those lucky enough to find employment at any of these bank regulatory agencies earned average total compensation that exceeded the average total employee compensation paid by 99.9 percent of all banks that filed regulatory reports in 2012,” he concluded.

“There’s kind of been a nuclear war in terms of salary and benefit between these agencies trying to one-up each other,” Kupiec told TheDCNF in an interview. “Nobody looks at it. And nobody stops them.”

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