WASHINGTON, D.C. – FDIC Board Chair Jelena McWilliams is reportedly ordering agency staff not to publish a board-approved request for information (RFI). Her conduct is plainly unlawful according to a new analysis published today by Public Citizen.
Earlier this week, a majority of FDIC Board members voted to issue the RFI on the agency’s regulatory framework around bank mergers. A statement was later posted on the FDIC website claiming that there had been no “valid” vote to issue the RFI, and FDIC Chair Jelena McWilliams, who was appointed by Donald Trump, reportedly ordered staff not to transmit the RFI for publication in the Federal Register.
Public Citizen’s legal analysis concludes that the FDIC Board vote is valid, and Chair McWilliams is acting unlawfully in attempting to override the Board’s vote and block staff from carrying it out.
Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen, released the following statement:
“McWilliams is trying to subvert a decision by the majority of the FDIC Board and substitute her personal views for their lawful governance of the agency.
“If she is blocking staff from publishing the RFI, then her conduct is both outrageous and flagrantly illegal. President Biden should tell her to stand down immediately. If she refuses, he should not hesitate to fire her.
“There is an open legal question whether FDIC Board members serve at the pleasure of the President or may be removed only for cause. Even under a “for cause” standard, the President is readily justified in removing an agency official who actively flouts and attempts to subvert her own agency’s lawful decisions.
“For years, Republican critics of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau decried that the agency had a single director, arguing that power should be vested in a board or commission instead. They should join in condemning the actions of a single FDIC Board member trying to block the majority and seize control of the agency.”
Read the full analysis here: https://www.citizen.org/wp-content/uploads/Legal-Analysis-of-FDIC-Governance-Dispute.pdf