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Aug. 12, 2013

Bipartisan Policy Center’s Financial Policy Initiative Dominated by Individuals Tied to Big Banks, Recommends Bank-Friendly Policies, New Public Citizen Report Finds

American Bankers Association and Citigroup Became ‘Leadership Council’ Supporters of Advocacy Group in 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), a think tank that claims neutrality, has enlisted the funding of big banks and the intellectual support of individuals linked with those banks, and has made a series of bank-friendly financial policy recommendations, a new report from Public Citizen finds. The report, “Made in the Shade,” examines the ties of the experts enlisted by BPC for its continuing project on financial policy.

“The BPC launched its fiscal policy project in 2012, the year that the American Bankers Association and Citigroup became major contributors,” said report author Bartlett Naylor, financial policy advocate at Public Citizen. “Under the guise of bipartisanship, the BPC has gathered an expert group filled largely with bank lobbyists. The policies they are promoting appear to be an American Bankers Association and Citigroup-sponsored agenda.”

Added Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, “Everyone’s entitled to their policy opinion, but everyone should be clear about who they represent. Organizations and scholars of good faith should be wary of receiving funding from self-interested trade associations that seek to hide behind a veneer of independence and honest brokering.”

Since Public Citizen began its research three months ago, one of the few BPC financial policy experts who does not lobby for banks has resigned and another has expressed concerns.

“Made in the Shade” focuses on the BPC’s promotion of a commission to replace the director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The brainchild of then-Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren, the CFPB was created to combat unfair, deceptive and abusive practices by banks.

“Replacing a single director with a commission would slow, if not stifle, strict enforcement and oversight,” Naylor said. “And while the effort to block Senate confirmation of the CFPB’s director ultimately failed, we must continue to be vigilant in our ongoing work defending a strong, single-director, CFPB.”

The Public Citizen report provides new information beyond a recent examination by Harvard University that raised questions about the BPC’s made-as-instructed modus operandi.

The Public Citizen report is available here.


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