Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., is seeking an investigation.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., is seeking an investigation. Sarah Silbiger/The Washington Post via AP, Pool

Senator Seeks Probe Into Potential Civil Service Violations Under Biden

Top Banking Committee Republican is demanding answers from the administration and asking the IG for a full investigation.

A Senate Republican is seeking a probe into potential civil service violations by the Biden administration, asking a watchdog to look into the possible sidelining of career senior executives. 

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, sent letters on Thursday to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, President Biden’s nominee to lead the agency and its inspector general asking the bureau to review allegations of prohibited personnel practices. The requests followed a Government Executive report on the Biden administration taking an unusually aggressive approach to clean house at the top career executive level within CFPB, including by offering separation incentives and launching investigations into staff members. 

“In light of the seriousness of the allegations in this report, as well as the implication that these actions may have been undertaken to provide the administration’s nominee for director of the CFPB, Rohit Chopra, with the opportunity to hire a hand-picked team of loyalists for senior positions, I request that your office promptly review the allegations,” Toomey wrote to Mark Bialek, IG for the Federal Reserve and CFPB. The senator further asked that if the allegations are credible, the IG complete a full investigation into whether the personnel moves violated any federal statutes. 

Current and former employees at CFPB told Government Executive the Biden team was looking to push out top Senior Executive Service personnel at the bureau due to their association with the Trump administration. The Biden team has its own list of individuals to fill new vacancies, multiple sources said. Unlike political appointees, career federal employees do not serve at the pleasure of the president and are not expected to turn over from one administration to the next. Federal statute dating back to the 19th century prohibits personnel decisions made for partisan purposes or that consider political affiliation. CFPB said in response to the allegations that it supports and trusts its civil servant employees, but did not deny any of the specific complaints. 

“It’s very clear what’s happening—it’s forcing people out who are not political actors,” a former employee said. “This is being done in a pretty underhanded way and, frankly, they are getting away with it.”

In his letter to Chopra, a current commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission and Biden’s CFPB director-designate, Toomey asked about the nominee's awareness of efforts to sideline career staff and his involvement in any such personnel decisions. The senator asked acting CFPB Director Dave Uejio for specifics on who has been offered separation incentives, who was placed on administrative leave while under investigation and whether Chopra was involved.

John Manibusan, a spokesman for the Federal Reserve and CFPB IG, said Toomey’s request is currently under review.