OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
The head of one of the government’s major agencies, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or FDIC, has resigned after warning of a “hostile takeover” by the Democrats.
Jelena McWilliams, 48, who was the chairperson of the agency, penned a letter to President Joe Biden on Friday attacking Senate Democrats for going around her to suit their own agenda.
“After serving as the 21st Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) since June 2018, I intend to resign as Chairman effective February 4, 2022,” the agency chair, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, said.
“When I immigrated to this country 30 years ago, I did so with a firm belief in the American system of government. During my tenure at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the United States Senate, and the FDIC, I have developed a deep appreciation for these venerable institutions and their traditions. It has been a tremendous honor to serve this nation, and I did not take a single day for granted. Throughout my public service, I have been constantly reminded how blessed we are to live in the United States of America,” she said.
“Serving the American people alongside the dedicated career professionals of the FDIC has been the highlight of my professional life. Throughout my tenure, the agency has focused on its fundamental mission to maintain and instill confidence in our banking system while at the same time promoting innovation, strengthening financial inclusion, improving transparency, and supporting community banks and minority depository institutions, including through the creation of the Mission Driven Bank Fund. Today, banks continue to maintain robust capital and liquidity levels to support lending and protect against potential losses,” the chair said.
“The unexpected shock of COVID-19 tested the resilience of our financial system beginning in March 2020, and the FDIC took swift actions to maintain stability and provide flexibility for banks and consumers. The core of our financial system not only weathered the storm, but was a tangible source of strength for the American economy. The committed staff of the FDIC deserve great credit for these results, and they have my profound gratitude. I am humbled by their dedication to the FDIC’s mission and honored to have served with them,” she said.
Her resignation came after she penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal warning of a “hostile takeover” by Democrats when the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and FDIC board member Rohit Chopra said that she was not recognizing attempts by Democrat regulators to review the rules about bank mergers.
“The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is led by a five-member board, which for decades has delegated day-to-day operations to its chairman, who by statute serves a five-year term. This structure was designed to ensure independence from changing political administrations and has led to a long legacy of collegiality. For 88 years the chairman has controlled the board agenda and worked collaboratively with other board members,” she said in her piece.
“That all changed on Oct. 31, when board member Rohit Chopra presented me with a draft request for information on bank mergers. Two-and-a-half weeks earlier, Mr. Chopra had been sworn in as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a position entitling him to a seat on the FDIC board,” she said.
“This conflict isn’t about bank mergers. If it were, board members would have been willing to work with me and the FDIC staff rather than attempt a hostile takeover of the FDIC internal processes, staff and board agenda.,” she said.
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, criticized the Democrat members for ending the 88-year history of bipartisanship in the FDIC.
“The recent, reckless effort by Director Chopra and Interim Director Gruenberg to take over the F.D.I.C. board leaves a dark mark on both the F.D.I.C. and their own personal records,” he said. “I am deeply troubled to see the administration support this extremist destruction of institutional norms and unprecedented action to undermine the independence and integrity of our financial regulators.”