At a House Financial Services Committee hearing today, Ellison quizzed Mulvaney on whether the glass was clear when the OMB director arrived at CFPB and if it was frosted now. Mulvaney told Ellison that "part of it is" now frosted.
"So when somebody walks by your office, they are obscured from seeing what you're doing?" Ellison asked.
"Yeah... it is the point," Mulvaney replied.
"And yet you are the champion of transparency, right?" Ellison continued. "...And yet you have obscured yourself physically. It just occurs to me that as we're talking about transparency and all that, and about how we've got to be more accountable, and yet you're obscuring yourself."
Mulvaney said that 13 offices at CFPB got frosted windows at a cost of $3,500, a design plan originating with former CFPB Director Richard Cordray.
"And yet you're the one who did it," Ellison retorted.
"I've been to your office; I can't see into it," Mulvaney responded.
Ellison told Mulvaney that with the CFPB office's frosted glass "who knows what you're even doing in that room."
After the hearing, Ellison wrote a letter to Mulvaney expressing concern that the frosted windows "limit the transparency of senior officials at the Bureau and create an appearance of impropriety."
Ellison asked for responses to several questions by April 18, including "whether you directed Bureau officials to frost the glass in your office and if so, on what date you ordered these changes."
"Please confirm that 13 offices at the CFPB have frosted glass. Please identify the location of each office with frosted glass. For each office with frosted glass, please provide the date on which the order was placed to frost the glass and the date on which the project was completed," the congressman continued. "Please identify all individuals who occupy offices with frosted glass. Please also specify whether the individual is a political appointee or a member of the civil service. For each individual who occupies an office with frosted glass, please identify the date on which that individual was hired."
Ellison also wants to know how much the project cost and whether it complied with GSA rules on Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification standards for sustainability.