Republican lawmakers are blasting the Federal Reserve after it was revealed tht one of its top officials has donated to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPennsylvania GOP authorizes subpoenas in election probe We must mount an all-country response to help our Afghan allies Biden nominates ex-State Department official as Export-Import Bank leader MORE.
Sen. David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBiden inaugural committee to refund former senator's donation due to foreign agent status Bottom line Lysol, Charmin keep new consumer brand group lobbyist busy during pandemic MORE (R-La.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, said the news that Lael Brainard, a Fed governor, had donated $750 to Clinton’s presidential campaign called into question the central bank’s political independence.
“If anyone had questions about the independence of the Federal Reserve, this makes it crystal clear they’re not,” he said in a statement.
And House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) said the donations are the latest sign the Fed is essentially a tool of the administration.
"This is just more evidence proving that the greatest threat to the Fed’s supposed monetary policy independence is its cozy ties to the executive branch," he said.
Bloomberg reported Tuesday that Brainard gave three separate donations to Clinton between November and January.
Brainard, a former Treasury official under President Obama, joined the Fed’s Board of Governors in June 2014. She was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 61 to 31, with Vitter among the Republican opposing her nomination.
Brainard's husband was a State Department official under Clinton.
A Fed spokesperson told Bloomberg that Fed officials are to refrain from partisan political activities but are free to vote and make donations within certain guidelines, like other executive branch employees.
While the donation may not have been against the rules, it has opened up a fresh line of attack for the Fed’s critics, particularly on the right.
Vitter and other Republicans have been pushing to check the Fed’s power, primarily by pushing legislation that would subject it to additional outside review or force it to abide by an explicit set of policy rules when setting interest rates.
In turn, the Fed has resisted every legislative effort to alter its operations, arguing that the changes could subject it to undue political pressure and render it less effective.
This post updated at 2:27 p.m.