A former employee of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is calling for an investigation after accusing managers of falsifying documents to impose fines on a payday lender.
Cassandra Jackson, a former CFPB examiner in the southeast division, sent a letter last week to Attorney General Jeff Sessions also accusing managers of "widespread racism and gender discrimination."
Jackson said her superiors at the CFPB asked her to falsify documents during her investigation into a Texas-based payday lending company, Ace Cash Express.
"During the course of this examination, I was asked to change, remove, and otherwise falsify documents connected with this examination," Jackson said.
Jackson said she was asked to remove document evidence proving Ace Cash Express was complying with CFPB rules and to write a report including findings she knew to be "false and fabricated."
"I was specifically told to cite Ace Cash Express for a violation for which I had verified the company was in compliance and to state that Ace Cash Express did not provide, and that the CFPB did not receive, documents that would have satisfied the CFPB's guidelines, despite having received that information from Ace Cash Express," Jackson said.
Jackson refused to follow management's orders and said she was retaliated against for not falsifying the report. Managers then "proceeded to modify the report" and used it to "garner" a $10 million settlement with the company, even though Jackson said her report "did not find significant violations by the lender."
The CFPB took enforcement action against Ace Cash Express in July 2014. The CFPB said the company pushed "payday borrowers into a cycle of debt" and forced the company to offer $5 million in refunds and pay a $5 million fine.
Jackson said after refusing to falsify records, managers informed her she was "not performing" at grade level and subjected to disciplinary action.
"I encourage you to initiate an investigation into this matter, as well as civil rights violations at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau," Jackson said. "During my nearly five years at the Bureau, I encountered widespread racism and gender discrimination from management."
Jackson said she was ultimately forced out of the CFPB due to an "incredibly hostile work environment and the retaliation I continued to receive from management at the CFPB due to the Ace Cash Express incident."
The U.S. Consumer Coalition, a consumer advocacy group, released the whistleblower letter.
"Ms. Jackson is a dedicated public servant who believes in the mission of the CFPB," said Brian J. Wise, president of the U.S. Consumer Coalition. "Unfortunately, her claims are all too familiar to the dedicated employees serving under the direction of CFPB management."
"We join Ms. Jackson in calling on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to initiate an investigation into this case as well as the dozens of cases of civil rights abuses we are aware of at the CFPB," he said.