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From Banking and Finance Law Daily, June 11, 2018

Democratic lawmakers seek transparent search for FRBank of San Francisco president

By Jacob Bielanski

A group of 43 Democratic lawmakers have signed a letter asking the Federal Reserve Board to emphasize transparency and public input in its search for a new president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

Though the group, led by Rep. Maxine Walter (D-Calif), thanked Fed Chair Jerome Powell for his public commitment to finding diverse candidates, they feared the process itself might continue to favor non-diverse candidates. The letter noted that, although the Fed appointed its first African American president in Atlanta last year, it has since selected two white, male candidates for president at other branches.

"The fact remains that leadership positions within the Federal Reserve System are disproportionately occupied by white men with strong ties to either Wall Street or to the agency itself," the letter said. "We remain concerned that the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s appointment of a diverse candidate, and the process by which the candidate pool was aggregated, may not be a systematic, replicable practice being implemented at all Reserve Banks."

The letter recognized efforts already undertaken to seek public input for candidate selection, but said it must go further by providing regular updates on the selection process and candidate pool. In addition to diversity in ethnicity, gender and race, lawmakers have also pushed to select candidates who are "occupationally diverse."

"As we have emphasized to other Reserve Banks, a lack of participation from individuals from a broad range of personal and professional backgrounds increases the problem of ‘group-think’ and threatens to undermine the quality of monetary and prudential policy decisions," the letter said.

The San Francisco branch began its search for a new president after its former president, John Williams, accepted a role in April replacing the FRBank of New York’s retiring president, William C. Dudley. Williams will officially take over that role June 18. The letter also lauded the Williams’s efforts to cultivate diversity within the San Francisco bank during his tenure.

According to a press release from Walters, the signatories to the letter were members of the House Financial Services Committee and representatives from congressional districts served by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

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