By Jim Kouri
With the Obama Administration and Democrat lawmakers denigrating Wall Street executives and others over their “enormous salaries,” a public interest organization that routinely investigates government corruption obtained government documents this week that reveals the generous salaries and bonuses being paid to federal workers in such agencies as the Obama created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the new agency set up by the Dodd-Frank Act to monitor the financial products marketed to the general public. However, there are many critics of this additional layer of bureaucracy who believe it was Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) who should have been monitored
While President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the bureau, Richard Cordray, was approved by the Democrat Party-dominated Senate Banking Committee, some believe his approval by the full Senate depends on the bureau giving up some of its far reaching power.
The released documents were obtained as a result of Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests filed on July 12, 2011 with the two agencies by Judicial Watch. The non-partisan group also filed FOIA requests with the Federal Reserve, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), U.S. Treasury, and the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).
The FOIAs requested Standard Forms 50 (SF-50s) from each of the agencies. An SF-50 is a human resources form that documents any change in a government worker’s employment situation, including pay. The following responses were received:
- The CFPB responded on August 4, 2011, the SF-50s revealing CFPB workers being hired at salaries twice the maximum ordinarily allowed under guidelines published each year by the Office of Personnel Management. A dozen new hires take home more than $225,000 a year, and a student intern is currently being paid $42,036 “through completion of education & study” as a communications trainee.
- The CFTC responded on September 12, 2011, but blocked out most of the information on the 26 forms provided. The documents, however, reveal that the agency has instituted a cash award bonus system, and during the first six months of 2011, the agency doled out from $400 to $5,000 in bonus income to employees already earning $225,000 or more per year.
- The Federal Reserve, responding on August 25, 2011, denied using SF-50s, despite an apparent statutory requirement to do so. It also refused a subsequent request for “Transcripts of Service,” which the agency said it used instead of SF-50s.
- The OCC responded on August 22, 2011, the SF-50s indicating that 85 workers earn $225,000 or more per year. The employee names, as well as the legal authority under which the pay raises were issued, were blotted out.
- The U.S. Department of the Treasury, responding on August 25, 2011, indicated that two employees earn more than $225,000, but withheld their names.
- The SEC responded on October 3, 2011, reporting that 103 workers earn $225,000 or more per year.
Judicial Watch filed administrative appeals regarding the withholding of information by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
“These new salary records are bound to cause controversy. No wonder Washington DC is the wealthiest area of the country,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch.
“And the secrecy surrounding basic salary information of public employees shows an arrogance of power and contempt for transparency in an administration that promised the very opposite,” he added.
If the CFPB or other agencies engage in the power grabs that many fear, thet will be investigated thanks to groups such as Judicial Watch.