The ranking Democrat on a House panel overseeing the Federal Reserve on Wednesday accused a witness invited by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) of being affiliated with a "hate group."
The first meeting of the House Financial Services Committee's Domestic Monetary Policy and Trade subcommittee had a tense moment when Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) questioned the background of Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo.
Clay went after DiLorenzo, an economics professor at Loyola University who was invited to testify by Paul, for his connections with the League of the South, which has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "neo-Confederate" group. The league identifies DiLorenzo as an "affiliated scholar" of its League of the South Institute for the Study of Southern Culture and History.
"After reviewing your work and the so-called message you employ, I still do not understand you being invited to testify today on the unemployment situation," Clay said. "But I do know that I have no questions for you."
Paul dismissed Clay's comments after the hearing, calling them character attacks in lieu of addressing DiLorenzo's arguments against the Fed.
The meeting marked the first hearing of the subcommittee since Paul, a longtime critic of the Federal Reserve, was named its chairman.
In his prepared testimony, DiLorenzo accused the Fed of generating "boom-and-bust cycles" since its formation in 1914.
DiLorenzo is also a senior faculty member of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, which promotes the Austrian School of economics, of which Paul is a strong adherent.
After the hearing, Paul was mobbed by an enthusiastic group of well-wishers. Several people asked him to autograph their pocket Constitutions and copies of his book, "End the Fed."