Congress is warning Americans that the agency charged with safeguarding their wallets — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — is ripping off taxpayers with a headquarters renovation that costs nearly as much as the building is worth.
“You are spending more per square foot than the Trump World Tower” cost to build, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, chair of the House Committee on Financial Services, told CFPB Director Richard Cordray during a hearing last week.
At issue is the $114 million-$145 million renovation of the three-year-old agency’s HQ adjacent to the White House. Included: a rooftop kiddie play yard, a fancy new lobby and fresh landscaping, not to mention new security, wiring and HVAC.
“We have to do certain things so that the building can be brought up to code and work properly,” explained Cordray. “We have leased a tough building,” he said, criticizing the HQ.
Some lawmakers, especially Republicans, are angered at the spending by the agency whose creation they opposed over the wishes of President Obama and his former consumer chief, current Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., long a critic of the rehab, told Secrets that he has demanded an audit of the renovation. He said its cost has soared to nearly three times the initial $55 million estimate and is nearly as much as the building’s total appraised value of $153 million.
The building isn’t new. It used to house the now defunct Office of Thrift Supervision.
STATE OF THE UNION PRICE TAG IS $40 BILLION ANNUALLY
President Obama's 43-point agenda outlined in his State of the Union speech last week would cost taxpayers nearly $40 billion more annually if fully implemented.
The National Taxpayers Union Foundation told Secrets that the president’s package would cost $39.995 billion more in annual spending. The bulk, $20.2 billion, would pay for the immigration and amnesty program, followed by $12.8 billion to restore unemployment insurance and $3.5 billion to fund pre-K education.
The president’s wish list would cost each American household upwards of $350.
AUCTION: BLOOD FROM HITLER SUICIDE SOFA
An internationally-known auction house based in Maryland is offering the rarest of Nazi artifacts: blood-stained fabric from the sofa where Adolf Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945. It is expected to bring a bid of $15,000 or more.
“No blood relics of Hitler's have ever been offered publicly,” said auctioneer and historian Bill Panagopulos.
The swatch is legit, coming from the son of the Army intelligence officer assigned to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower who got early access to Hitler’s bunker and took it as a souvenir.
Panagopulos’ Alexander Historical Auctions of Chesapeake City, Md., is one of the world's leading sellers of historical items. The auction takes place Feb. 18-19 at www.alexautographs.com.
Why sell it? “This unique relic may finally prove to the world that it was indeed Hitler who died in that bunker on April 30, 1945,” said Panagopulos.
OUTDOOR SHOW RETURNS WITH AR-15 FEATURED
The nation's biggest outdoors show, cancelled last year after vendors and sponsors protested a ban on AR-15 rifles following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, is being revived by the NRA, which is promising to give the popular rifle its place.
A National Rifle Association spokesman said that “Great American Outdoor Show,” which runs through Feb. 9 in Harrisburg, Pa., will feature the semi-automatic guns and makers including Bushmaster, Smith & Wesson and Colt.
What’s more, the NRA for the first time has built a shooting sports hall inside the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex for the expected 200,000 visitors.
The event was formerly known as the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show and staged by an international promoter.
LUCK HELPS GETTING TO THE SUPREME COURT
According to Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, every lawyer wants to sit on the Supreme Court.
And every lawyer thinks they’re smart enough to be there. But the truth is “we are not,” he said at a book signing at the National Archives.
So it comes down to luck. “I mean, to be a federal judge, lightning has to strike.” Then, he added, “to be on the Supreme Court, well, lightning has to strike twice in the same place.”
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at email@example.com.