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Fat paychecks for CFPB officials, hundreds paid more than Fed Chairman, congressmen, Supreme Court justices

Graphic compiled and created by Luke Rosiak/Washington Examiner.

Employees of the new Consumer Financial Protection Board may be the most lavishly paid of all federal workers.

Hundreds of CFPB officials are paid more than Supreme Court Justices, senior White House officials, members of Congress, and all 50 state governors, according to a Washington Examiner analysis of salary data for the board's 1,204 workers.

The watchdog board, for example, pays 56 employees more than the $199,700 Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke receives. Federal Reserve governors get $179,700, a figure exceeded by 111 CFPB workers.

Congress created the CFPB in 2011 as a financial services regulatory entity under the Federal Reserve, which is exempt from regular civil service pay scales.

A CFPB spokesman said the board is required to follow Federal Reserve pay scales.

"Dodd-Frank legislation requires CFPB to design pay and benefit programs that are comparable to the Federal Reserve Board and in line with other federal financial regulators," said the spokesman who demanded anonymity.

But a Federal Reserve spokesman said the Fed has no authority to determine what CFPB pays its employees.

In any case, the average annual salary paid by CFPB is $118,000, while the median is $113,000. Six-figure salaries go to 741 employees, or 61% of the CFPB workforce, with one in four taking home $150,00 or more.

Individual median income in the U.S. is $29,965, according to the U.S. Census, and $69,821 for households.

Fifty-six CFPB officers earn more than all presidential cabinet secretaries who earn $199,500.

There are 173 agency staff who earn more than all elected Members of Congress and 209 employees who earn more than all 50 U.S. governors.

Congressional salaries are set at $174,000 (with a few exceptions for top leaders), while gubernatorial compensation ranges from Maine Gov. Paul LePage's $70,000 to $165,288 for California's Jerry Brown.

Fourteen agency staffers are paid more than Vice President Biden who earns $227,000.

Nineteen CPFB staffers earn more than Speaker of the House John Boehner, who is third in line for succession to the presidency and is paid $223,500.

Thirty-seven CFPB employees get more than eight Supreme Court justices, who are paid $213,500. Nineteen CFPB staffers make more than Chief Justice John Roberts who gets $223,500.

Top White House salaries are capped at $172,200, but 181 employees are paid more than the president's chief of staff, senior counsel and press secretary.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, said CFPB's compensation practices, saying they "raise concern about the way this department was created."

Rep. Sean Duffy, R-WI, who has introduced legislation to conform CFPB salaries to those paid career civil service employees, considers the high salaries "extravagant" and "outrageous."

"I think what the salaries of the CFPB show is that this is an agency that's out of touch," said Duffy, a member of the House Financial Services Committee's oversight panel.

Nine of Duffy's Republican colleagues co-sponsor his CFPB Pay Fairness Act of 2013. No Democrats are co-sponsors.

Pete Sepp, executive vice president for the non-partisan National Taxpayers Union, called the CFPB salary revelations "an inauspicious start for a new agency designed to protect consumers."

Duffy said CFPB doesn't have to pay exorbitant salaries to attract needed talent.

"Look at the Treasury. You need technical knowledge inside the Treasury," he said. "We see the brainpower that many of these agencies have. And their pay is less than the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau."

Sepp agreed, asking "how can it be justified on grounds to hire expertly qualified people when many of the salaries far exceed the experts at places like the Federal Reserve and the Securities & Exchange Commission?"

Comparing title and compensation levels with other databases, the Washington Examiner was able to authenticate the list and identify many of the top-earning CFPB officials.

The top grossing CFPB employee is Gail K. Hillebrand who receives $251,288. She is assistant director for consumer education and engagement. Previously, Hillebrand was a marketing manager at Consumers Union.

Deputy Director David Mark Silberman is CFPB's next highest earner at $253,875, including an $8,000 bonus. Previously, Silberman was the AFL-CIO's deputy counsel.

Assistant Director for Regulation, Markets and Regulation Stephen Antonakes is the third highest earner at $245, 875. A former Massachusetts Commissioner of Banks, he was the only commissioner to start as a bank examiner.

Richard Cordray, CFPB's director, is paid $179,700, a compensation level he apparently chose for himself.