Yellen Grilled on Fed Partisanship

by Tho Bishop

Just days after Donald Trump accused the Federal Reserve of playing politics with low interest rates during the first presidential debate, Congressman Scott Garrett challenged Chairman Janet Yellen today on whether Fed officials were guilty of playing politics this campaign season. In particular, Garrett questioned the actions of Fed Governor Lael Brainard who raised eyebrows earlier this year by donating the legal maximum to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Since the Fed’s decision to maintain low interest rates is widely seen as benefiting Hillary Clinton, and given that Brainard’s actions opened herself up to what Garrett described as “the appearance of conflict,” Garrett asked whether she had recused herself from the FOMC. Yellen responded that Brainard did not, was not asked to, and was not barred from donating to political campaigns according to the Hatch Act.

Garrett pushed further. Noting that multiple media outlets have been openly speculating about a potential role for Brainard in a Clinton administration, the congressman asked Yellen whether such a conversation between Brainard and Clinton would be a violation of Fed policy. Yellen responded by saying that while she would need to check with Fed lawyers, she didn’t see any conflict.

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