The Corner

Was Elizabeth Warren Responsible for the CFPB’s Over-Budget HQ — and Its Missing Records?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), charged with protecting American consumers from exploitation by financial institutions, seems to need a watchdog for its own budget. 

The renovation of the bureau’s headquarters, originally estimated at $55 million, has ballooned to $145.1 million (or $215.8 million, if one includes moving expenses and rental costs) — and the Office of the Inspector General of the Federal Reserve (OIG) reports that the documents authorizing the renovation are nowhere to be found. The Los Angeles Times reports:

The inspector general’s report, released Wednesday, said bureau officials have been “unable to locate any documentation of the decision to fully renovate the building.”

The bureau also failed to follow its own guidelines for approval by an internal investment review board [IRB] because a required analysis of alternatives to the renovation was not completed, the report said.

“We cannot conclude whether a complete analysis would have altered the decision to approve funding for the renovation,” said the report by the Federal Reserve’s inspector general, which is the official watchdog for the bureau.

“However, without this analysis, the value of the IRB process as a funding control is diminished and a sound business case is not available to support the funding of the renovation,” the report said.

Breitbart observes that Massachusetts senator and potential Democratic presidential contender Elizabeth Warren​ was one of the supervisors of the CFPB from September 2010 until her resignation in August 2011, as presidentially appointed “Special Advisor for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”

The renovation decisions would almost certainly have occurred during her tenure. The decision to renovate the CFPB headquarters — the former quarters of the Office of Thrift Supervision, at 1700 G Street NW, in Washington, D.C. — was formally announced in February 2011, and initial funding for renovation had been designated by October 1, 2011, the beginning of the CFPB’s fiscal year.

The question of Warren’s involvement aside, the CFPB’s lavish spending shows: The renovated headquarters will include a new penthouse floor and an indoor waterfall. House Republicans say that, per the OIG report, the building will cost $590 per square foot — more than the Trump World Tower in New York City, the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, and the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

Ian Tuttle — Ian Tuttle is the former Thomas L. Rhodes Journalism Fellow at the National Review Institute.

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