Utah Republican Candidate for U.S. Senate demands transparency and accountability
Salt Lake City, UT, January 25, 2010 — Joining an increasing number of current U.S. Senators, Utah Republican Senate candidate Mike Lee today voiced his opposition to the nomination of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to a second term. Bernanke's current term expires on January 31st. President Obama's nomination of Bernanke is seen by many as a continuation of the status quo in Washington, without transparency or accountability, sparking significant opposition from Senators on both sides of the political aisle.
Mike Lee stated, "It is clear that during Chairman Bernanke's term, the Federal Reserve has played a significant role in creating and perpetuating policies and strategies that have contributed significantly to the most difficult economic environment our country has faced in a generation." Lee continued, "To confirm the Chairman to a second term would be both a tacit approval of his actions during these past few years, and an endorsement that 'business as usual' is acceptable. That is something I am simply not willing to do."
Lee is not alone in this sentiment, as he is joined by members of the Senate and by a vast majority of Americans. Lee pointed to a recent Rasmussen poll which found that only 21% of people favor the reappointment of Bernanke. "I believe people are seeing through the flowery rhetoric and hollow reassurances in the statements Bernanke has made and continues to make," Lee said. "For example, Congress was warned that we were on the precipice of collapse in the credit markets and that the premise for voting for the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) was to purchase toxic assets. Despite their stated intentions to the contrary, the Department of the Treasury, under guidance from the Fed, used the appropriated money for bailing out banks and other purposes unrelated to purchasing toxic assets. The TARP funds were simply not used as they were described and intended. For this reason and others, I strongly support Senator Jim DeMint's efforts to block Chairman Bernanke's confirmation until the Senate votes up or down on the Federal Reserve Sunshine Act."
The Federal Reserve Sunshine Act, sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), currently has over thirty sponsors in the Senate and would give the Government Accountability Office authority to conduct a full audit of the Federal Reserve. Efforts to have this bill come to a vote on the Senate floor have recently been blocked, but according to a Rasmussen poll conducted last month, 8 out of 10 Americans support the audit. Lee commented, "The Sunshine Act seems aptly named, as a little sunshine pointed at the Federal Reserve, by way of an audit, would do wonders to increase transparency and assure accountability."
"The Federal Reserve is an institution which has mismanaged the people's money, inflated our currency, blocked efforts to determine and disclose who they have given over $2 trillion of our money to, all while earning $45 billion during 2009," Lee explained. "Simply replacing Bernanke may not be sufficient, but Chairman Bernanke must be held accountable for the Fed's actions. It is time to send a clear message that 'business as usual' is not acceptable, that transparency is mandatory and that everyone is accountable, now and in the future. This is the first in a series of important steps which must be taken to ensure the integrity and reliability of our monetary system."
Mike Lee is running for the seat currently held by three-term incumbent Senator Bob Bennett, who recently cast an approving vote in the Senate Banking Committee to confirm Bernanke for a second term.
About Mike Lee: An attorney from Alpine, Utah, Lee has served as a law clerk to Judge Dee Benson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, as a law clerk to Judge Samuel Alito of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, as General Counsel to Governor Jon Huntsman, and as a law clerk to Justice Samuel Alito of the U.S. Supreme Court. He has also held positions in private practice, and is currently a partner with the Washington, D.C.-based law firm of Howrey LLP.
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