NADA Asks CFPB to Release Documents Admitting Goal of Regulation Through Enforcement



MCLEAN, VA. (Oct. 8, 2015)-The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) on Thursday asked the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to release internal documents acknowledging that the agency intended to regulate the auto finance market through enforcement action, and eschewed evidence that its methods for estimating disparate impact were deeply flawed.

The request was made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and signed by NADA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Paul Metrey.

It is the second time in less than three months that NADA has requested access to agency documents that were leaked to American Banker, and that show a CFPB intent on eliminating the dealer discretion to offer discounted financing rates to consumers. NADA's first request, filed on July 13, 2015, was denied by the CFPB three days later.

On Sept. 17 and Sept. 24, American Banker published articles that made numerous references to internal CFPB documents revealing that the CFPB:

  • Based its understanding of the vehicle financing marketplace and dealer compensation on a discredited advocacy report as opposed to a dispassionate and informed review of the market, data analysis, or an accurate assessment of consumer impact;
  • Made a conscious decision to attempt to regulate the auto finance market through "market-tipping" enforcement actions as opposed to a transparent and informed rulemaking process; and
  • Recognized that, despite knowledge that its disparate impact methodology could produce significant inaccuracies, persisted in using that flawed methodology to extract settlements from finance companies over which it has extraordinary leverage.

"These documents demonstrate a lack of transparency and accountability that should be deeply troubling to anyone concerned about how significantly a regulator can influence a market that affects millions of consumers," said NADA President Peter Welch. "Consumers benefit tremendously from the discounts they get from dealers, and they have every right to demand that their voices be included in - not willfully excluded from - the debate about how to regulate the auto finance market."

The full text of NADA's letter to CFPB's Chief FOIA Officer is available here.

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