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Consumer agency faulted for sign-language spending (seriously)

August 21, 2012|By David Lazarus
  • A conservative group says the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau spends too much on things like sign-language translation services.
A conservative group says the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau spends… (Los Angeles Times )

If you can't beat 'em, drown 'em in petty attacks.

Conservatives fought long and hard to block creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which the Obama administration said was needed to safeguard people from abusive credit card and mortgage lenders.

Now that the watchdog agency is up and running, conservatives have found a new line of attack: How the bureau spends its money.

Judicial Watch, a conservative foundation, says the agency has been spending a surprising amount of taxpayer money on -- oh my God! -- sign-language translation services and banking classes for its lawyers.

One document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows that the consumer bureau is spending about $465,000 this year for sign-language services, which officials say is needed to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act and assist deaf employees.

The agency spent an additional $4,500 to enroll six employees in a Banking Law Fundamentals class at George Washington University. The two-and-a-half day course was "a comprehensive introduction to banking law regulation for attorneys, consultants and bank professionals."

The consumer bureau says the agency's enforcement attorneys are required to continue their legal education to remain licensed.

This is the best the agency's critics can do? Sign language and banking classes?

Never mind the $150 million that the bureau obtained on behalf of consumers from Capital One, which had been peddling credit-card products that people couldn't actually use.

And never mind the various educational programs the bureau has launched to give consumers a fighting chance against businesses that seem determined to play unfairly.

Sign language!

Off with their heads!


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