Sen. Jon Tester questioned a Trump administration nominee to the Consumer and Financial Protection Bureau after she claimed a commitment to transparency, even as her agency rolls back campaign finance disclosure rules.
Tester called the changes “one of the swampiest decisions I have ever seen.”
“Let me ask you this, the number one thing that you are going to bring to the Bureau is transparency and accountability,” Tester said during Kathleen Kaninger’s confirmation hearing. “How can you actually say that you don’t have an opinion on it when it deals exclusively with transparency?”
Tester said Kraninger, who was nominated to head the CFBB, failed to answer the question.
Last week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the agency will no longer require certain tax-exempt groups to list their financial donors to the Internal Revenue Service.
The change protects the privacy of donors who make dark money contributions of more than $5,000 to politically active, tax-exempt organizations, including Planned Parenthood, the National Rifle Association and the Democratic Socialists of America.
Nonprofit groups that receive tax-deductible donations, such as charities, will still have to report the names of their larger donors, according to CNN.
While supporters see the change as a win for free speech, critics say the rule will make it easier for politically active lobbies to conceal large contributions, including those from foreign countries.
“This is the swampiest, darkest, dirtiest decision,” Tester said at the time. “We need more transparency in our campaigns, not less.”
The CFPB was created during the financial crisis as an independent federal agency that serves as the federal government watchdog on behalf of consumers. The agency has the authority to launch investigations into a number of business actions that include mortgages, credit cards, loan servicing, money transmitting and financial data processing.
The CFPB has been without a permanent director since last year.
Kraninger currently oversees the budgetary resources for the Treasury Department in her role at the Office of Management and Budget, which last week made the decision to eliminate public disclosure requirements for certain political nonprofit organizations.
“Your opening statement said a lot of good things that I agree with,” Tester added. “Protecting data, accountability for actions, transparency, working closely, and holding bad actors accountable, but your answers don’t reflect those values at all.”