At the outset of the financial crisis, the Bush administration began an unprecedented government takeover of the private sector with the so-called bailouts. When Barack Obama took office, he doubled down on this gamble and kicked the door wide open, pumping massive amounts of taxpayer cash in order to further control the private sector, particularly the financial sector. This unprecedented growth in government control included creating new federal agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and and expanding existing agencies such as the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
The professed purpose of these government agencies is to “keep watch” on the business dealings of corporations in order to “protect” the consumer. But after reading some documents JW obtained recently revealing the generous salaries and bonuses being paid to government workers in these agencies, I have one question: Who is watching out for the American taxpayer?
We obtained the documents in response to Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests filed on July 12, 2011, with the CFPB and the CFTC, as well as with the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the U.S. Treasury, and the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).
The FOIAs requested Standard Form 50s (SF-50s) from each of the agencies. An SF-50 is a human resources form that documents any change in a government worker’s employment situation, including pay. Check out some of the responses we received:
- The CFPB responded on August 4, 2011. The SF-50s revealed CFPB workers being hired at salaries twice the maximum ordinarily allowed under guidelines published each year by the Office of Personnel Management. A dozen new hires take home more than $225,000 a year, and a student intern is currently being paid $42,036 “through completion of education & study” as a communications trainee.
- The CFTC responded on September 12, 2011, but blocked out most of the information on the 26 forms provided. The documents, however, reveal that the agency has instituted a cash award bonus system, and during the first six months of 2011, the agency doled out from $400 to $5,000 in bonus income to employees already earning $225,000 or more per year.
- The Federal Reserve, responding on August 25, 2011, denied using SF-50s, despite an apparent statutory requirement to do so. It also refused a subsequent request for “Transcripts of Service,” which the agency said it used instead of SF-50s.
- The OCC responded on August 22, 2011. The SF-50s indicated that 85 workers earn $225,000 or more per year. The employee names, as well as the legal authority under which the pay raises were issued, were blotted out.
- The U.S. Department of the Treasury, responding on August 25, 2011, indicated that two employees earn more than $225,000, but withheld their names.
- The SEC responded on October 3, 2011, reporting that 103 workers earn $225,000 or more per year.
(Judicial Watch filed administrative appeals regarding the withholding of information by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury. What these agencies provided to us was disturbing enough, for certain. So we want to know what they’re hiding.)
These new salary records are bound to cause controversy.
No wonder Washington, DC, is the wealthiest area of the country! And the secrecy surrounding basic salary information of public employees shows an arrogance of power and contempt for transparency in an administration that promised the very opposite.
(Feel free to pass this along to the Obama army of Occupy Wall Street protestors, for they are sorely need in lessons of what’s really happening in Washington. It might surprise them to learn that Wall Street is already “occupied” – by well-paid “armies” of Washington bureaucracies and their politician “generals”.)