The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston has not responded to requests for documents related to “woke” initiatives even after half a year, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee says.
Sen. Pat Toomey first demanded answers from the regional bank in May and sent along a seven-page letter to then-Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren. In the letter, he detailed what his office has dubbed “woke mission creep” by Fed banks. The Boston Fed and other regional banks have published politically charged research involving hot-button topics such as race, gender, and climate change. The Pennsylvania Republican had also sent similar letters to other regional banks, including Minneapolis and Atlanta, which requested documents and records related to their programs.
Toomey had set an early June deadline for the Boston Fed to respond but never received the requested records and sent Rosengren another letter expressing his disappointment about the “unacceptable stonewalling.” Staff at the Boston Fed did provide his office a briefing but did not hand over any of the requested records, according to the letter. Now, months later, a spokesperson for Senate Banking Committee Republicans said the documents still haven’t materialized.
“It’s now been over six months since Banking Committee Republicans first requested information from the Boston Fed, yet they have failed to produce a single requested document,” the spokesperson told the Washington Examiner.
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In Toomey’s initial letter to the Boston Fed, he highlighted a joint series by the regional banks titled “Racism and the Economy,” which he said “is fraught with ideological assumptions and interpretations, and the work and analysis of the Boston Fed seems heavily laden with political and value judgments.”
Toomey went on to say that “certain Federal Reserve Banks, including the Boston Fed, have dedicated resources to social policy topics outside their area of expertise and that are reflective of the political and normative.”
He also highlighted a publication on the Boston Fed’s website called Invested, which he said promotes “racial justice activism.” Toomey wrote that the first part of the series focused on COVID-19’s effect on black people and health disparities that make them more vulnerable to the contagion.
Among the documents that Toomey requested were records about planning for any of the “Racism and the Economy” events, memorabilia and emails generated from July 2019 to the present that describe or refer to the motivation behind the bank’s focus on racial justice issues, and the bank’s annual expenses over the past decade related to research and community development, in addition to records related to other Fed publications.
In September, Rosengren, who had been mired in an ethics controversy involving trades made during the pandemic, announced that he was resigning nine months early because of health concerns. Since the 64-year-old’s departure, the regional bank has been searching for a new president.
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The Boston Fed’s board of directors formed a search committee in the wake of Rosengren’s retirement consisting of directors who are not part of the banking industry, per the bank’s bylaws. The Boston Fed’s search committee asked for the public to weigh in on what it wants to see in Rosengren’s replacement.
Major themes that the respondents said they are looking for in the new president were that the individual is mission-oriented, has credibility, and possesses strong managerial leadership. The report on the matter also said that participants “consistently noted the importance of the president being a champion for diversity and inclusion — and for diverse and inclusive thinking, perspective, background, and experience within the Federal Reserve Bank.”
Some Democrats have said that they would like to see the Fed system expand its scope beyond just its monetary policy and focus on social issues. Five liberal lawmakers sent a letter to President Joe Biden earlier this year asking him not to renominate Chairman Jerome Powell and to “re-imagine a Federal Reserve focused on eliminating climate risk and advancing racial and economic justice.”
While Powell was ultimately renominated, some Republicans worry that the Fed has been gradually exceeding the bounds of its nonpartisan mission and statutory mandate, which is to “promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.”
The Toomey spokesperson told the Washington Examiner on Monday that whoever is chosen to replace Rosengren should be an individual who heeds to that mandate instead of broadening it.
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“As the Boston Fed’s Search Committee seeks a new president, we are hopeful they will select an individual who respects inquiries from the country’s elected representatives and appreciates that the Fed’s independence and credibility is threatened by woke virtue signaling,” the spokesperson said.
The Washington Examiner asked the Boston Fed for comment and whether it intends to pass along the requested records to Toomey and the Banking Committee but did not receive a response.