Toomey chides Fed for withholding documents in Raskin fight

Sen. Pat Toomey is again demanding transparency by the Federal Reserve after learning the central bank withheld documents he and other Republicans sought related to former Fed nominee Sarah Bloom Raskin during her confirmation fight.

“It’s hard not to see this as a gesture of contempt for the Senate,” Toomey, the top Republican on the Banking Committee, said in an interview with Bloomberg News on Wednesday. He wants a new law forcing the Fed to be more transparent. “Something has to be done.”

Sarah Bloom Raskin Photographer: Ken Cedeno/Reuters/Bloomberg

Ken Cedeno/Bloomberg

Toomey wrote to Fed Chair Jerome Powell in February seeking all correspondence relating to Reserve Trust, a Colorado-based fintech company that had received a coveted Fed master account while Raskin served on its board. The senator led a rare blockade of her nomination in committee, citing a lack of information from Raskin and the Fed about her role in seeking the master account — which Toomey previously disclosed has since been suspended.

In a July 29 response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Accountability Foundation, the Fed revealed that it has 12 pages of records relating to Raskin and Reserve Trust, though the records aren’t correspondence to or from the former nominee.

The Fed declined to release the records, citing multiple exceptions to the Freedom of Information Act.

“I have determined that the responsive documents consist of predecisional and deliberative information regarding Reserve Trust’s efforts to acquire a master account,” Federal Reserve Board Deputy Secretary Margaret McCloskey Shanks said in a July 29 letter to the AAF, a conservative group that investigates President Biden’s nominees.

Toomey said that group got more of a response from the Fed than he did as the top Republican on the Banking Committee.

“We asked for this information in the context of fulfilling our responsibility to vet and decide whether to confirm a Senate-confirmed appointment,” Toomey said. “They had this information, which might very well inform our judgment about the qualifications of this nominee. And not only did they withhold it from us, they refused to even acknowledge they had it.”

The Pennsylvania Republican, who isn’t running for re-election this fall, said he sees the potential for bipartisan support for changing the law governing the Fed in the coming months.

“I think it calls for legislation to compel the Fed to be more transparent,” he said. “The Fed’s position is they’re not subject to oversight. And that’s outrageous.”

Toomey has also been discussing other ideas, including subjecting the Fed’s regional banks to FOIA laws and to have regional bank presidents subject to presidential appointment and Senate confirmation.

The Federal Reserve Board declined to comment, as did the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, which approved the master account.

Raskin, a former Fed Board governor and deputy Treasury secretary, ultimately withdrew from consideration as Fed vice chair for supervision after Democrat Joe Manchin announced his opposition to her, over her advocacy for the Fed to act on climate change.

— With assistance from Steve Matthews.

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