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Watchdog Group Files FOIA Suit Against CFPB

Public interest group ""Judicial Watch"":http://www.judicialwatch.org/ announced Tuesday that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the ""Consumer Financial Protection Bureau"":http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ (CFPB) to obtain records detailing President Obama's ""recess appointment"" of CFPB director Richard Cordray.

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Judicial Watch, a group dedicated to investigating and fighting possible government corruption, says it submitted a FOIA request on January 12 to CFPB seeking access to records of communications between the bureau, the White House, the Executive Office of the President, the Treasury, and Congress concerning Cordray's appointment to his post. That request also asked for records of communications between CFPB and the White House regarding Obama's visit to CFPB after the appointment, a move ""Politico"":http://www.politico.com/ referred to as a ""victory lap.""

Furthermore, Judicial Watch says a separate FOIA request was submitted to CFPB on January 25. The request was for communications regarding Cordray's appointment, as well as reimbursements, reservations, vouchers, and any other documentation regarding travel and lodging for Cordray, his family, guests, and the Ohio judge who accepted Cordray's oath of office.

According to Judicial Watch, CFPB failed to fully respond to FOIA requests within the statutory allotted time-frame, leading to the lawsuit.

President Obama called his appointment of Cordray as head of CFPB a recess appointment. Appointments for federal officers must normally be approved by the Senate before taking office. However, recess appointments do not need approval until the end of the next calendar year-2013 in Cordray's case. Republicans in the Senate had previously filibustered Cordray's nomination.

Judicial Watch's basis for issuing FOIA requests is its argument that Congress was actually not in recess at the time of Cordray's appointment. The United States Constitution dictates that neither house of Congress is permitted to adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other house. Judicial Watch argues that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, in order to prevent a recess appointment, had refused to consent to Senate adjournment.

Judicial Watch says it previously obtained documents from CFPB showing that Cordray acknowledged questions about the constitutionality of his appointment.

""Given the Obama administration's penchant for secrecy, I am not at all surprised we have to file a lawsuit to obtain these records on this scandalous appointment,"" said Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. ""The Cordray appointment is an abuse of office that disregards the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Senate's role in vetting presidential appointments. I'm sure the president would rather all details regarding his unlawful decision be kept under lock and key, but we intend to hold the Obama administration accountable to the rule of law.""

In response to the Judicial Watch lawsuit, the agency produced a dozen pages of responsive documents (described by the agency as final with respect to this matter) via emails sent Friday, June 8.

About Author: Tory Barringer

Tory Barringer began his journalism career in early 2011, working as a writer for the University of Texas at Arlington's student newspaper before joining the DS News team in 2012. In addition to contributing to DSNews.com, he is also the online editor for DS News' sister publication, MReport, which focuses on mortgage banking news.
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