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Citizen Action Urges Voters To Oust Scott Garrett Because Of His Anti-Consumer Protection Record In Congress

NJ.com — November 6, 2016

By John D. Atlas / NJ Voices

Scott Garrett IS DANGEROUS AND A PHONY.

He is the chairman of the powerful Financial Services subcommittee on capital markets.

He is supposed to protect his constituents from abusive corporate practices. Instead he takes millions dollars of what amounts to legal bribes from Wall Street, insurance, real estate and commercial banks.

Read this op-ed by Phyllis Salowe-Kaye.

Hold Scott Garrett Accountable for His Anti-Consumer Protection Record in Congress

By Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, Executive Director of New Jersey Citizen Action

It is time for New Jersey voters to hold Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ5) accountable. His abysmal record of siding with Wall Street banks and unraveling protections that consumers need to build financial health and security is unacceptable.

Tuesday, voters in Congressional District Five, including: Paramus, Ramsey, Ridgewood, Teaneck and parts of Passaic, Sussex and Warren Counties, will have the chance to let Congressman Garrett know what they think of his record of supporting banks over consumers, when they go to the polls on Nov 8th.

As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, he has done everything in his power to block essential reforms and regulations needed to protect consumers from the abusive practices of Wall Street banks. The same practices that led to the financial crash in 2008. Congressman Garrett opposed the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was created to prevent the excessive risk-taking that led to financial crisis. The bill also called for the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The CFPB acts as a watchdog to prevent mortgage companies and payday lenders from exploiting consumers. Congressman Garrett has been crusading to gut the CFPB since it opened its doors in 2011. He is also a staunch defender of predatory payday lenders, which have greatly contributed to his election war chest.

Most recently, Congressman Garrett revealed the depth of his pro-Wall Street stance with a laughable rebuke of the CFPB in the wake of the Wells Fargo customer account fraud scandal. After playing a central and vocal role in the Republican campaign to defund, destroy its authority, and obstruct the work of the CFPB at every turn, Rep. Garrett flipped his rhetoric with a charge that the agency was not effective enough in its investigation of Wells Fargo. The Congressman, who has attacked the CFPB time and time again for being too aggressive, now has the gall to say the CFPB did not do enough. Suddenly, Rep. Garrett is concerned about how consumers in the 5th district have been hurt by the industry he has historically fought to protect from regulation. He blames the regulator that stopped the abuse instead of the company that committed the crimes.

Shortly after Rep. Garrett leveled his criticisms at the CFPB regarding the Wells Fargo case, he co-sponsored the Financial CHOICE Act of 2016, which would end the CFPB's use of enforcement actions against banks. The Financial CHOICE Act of 2016 would make it easier for banks to block CFPB requests for documents that might expose any wrongdoing. Just how would the CFPB be more effective in stopping bank fraud if this bill becomes law?

In our work to ensure the CFPB adopts a strong rule to regulate payday and auto title lending, New Jersey Citizen Action learned just how deeply Congressman Garret was connected to the payday lending industry. In 2015, Congressman Garrett was forced to defend himself against ethics charges alleging that he and 10 other federal lawmakers pressured the CFPB to issue a weak payday lending rule, while accepting campaign contributions from the industry. And he has done all of this as a representative from New Jersey, where payday loans, which have an average of 400% interest rate, are prohibited.
Now Congressman Garrett is sponsoring a bill that would stop thousands of potential buyers from getting affordable homes. The bill would weaken the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-backed companies that buy mortgages from lenders, which makes them affordable to more people. The National Realtors Association found Garrett's sponsorship of this anti-consumer legislation so objectionable that they decided to back Garrett's opponent, Josh Gottheimer.

Although strong efforts to call Congressman Garrett to task for his anti-consumer stance are taking place in a year when the Congress is up for grabs, they are hardly the result of election season grand standing. The record is clear. Since the devastating economic crash in 2008, Congressman Garrett has put his lot in with unbridled and unethical practices in the financial industry. He has sought to protect, not reform Wall Street. He has undermined the interests of hard working New Jerseyans still recovering from the economic meltdown. The time has come. Scott Garrett has got to go.

Phyllis Salowe-Kaye

Phyllis Salowe-Kaye is the Executive Director of New Jersey Citizen Action (NJCA), the state's largest progressive coalition working for social and economic justice for all.

NJCA has endorsed Josh Gottheimer.

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