Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Jelena McWilliams, a Trump appointment, resigned Friday amid a power battle with Democratic board members.
McWilliams announced her departure from the FDIC in a letter to President Biden sent on Friday, less than four years after being confirmed by the Senate to helm the bank regulator.
McWilliams’ abrupt departure comes only weeks after Democratic FDIC board members sought to initiate a review of bank merger guidelines without her permission. McWilliams nominally controlled the FDIC board, but she was the only Republican voting against three Democrats: former FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Rohit Chopra, and Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael Hsu.
McWilliams blasted the Democratic directors in a Wall Street Journal op-ed for pursuing “a hostile takeover” of the FDIC. Republican legislators also chastised the Democratic FDIC directors for breaking nearly nine decades of agency leadership collegiality. Democrats, including the White House, pushed that McWilliams submit to the FDIC majority’s wishes.
Putting partisanship & ideology over what was best for the @FDICgov & depositors, Chair McWilliams started a political fight she couldn't win. Now, rather than work cooperatively & collegially in the best interests of the organization, she has resigned: https://t.co/UAvlKrrgoY— Dennis Kelleher (@DennisKelleher) December 31, 2021
McWilliams moved to the United States from Serbia following the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, attended the University of California, Berkeley, and worked at a number of high-profile legal firms. She was the executive vice president of Fifth Third Bank and the main lawyer for Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee before being named to oversee the FDIC.
Her story of coming to America to pursue her dream stands as an inspiration to us all. A total class act who always sought balance—much to my chagrin at times. The FDIC cannot operate where the minority is not represented. https://t.co/k4g1AVW7R0— Richard Hunt (@cajunbanker) December 31, 2021
With McWilliams’ departure, Biden now has the opportunity to nominate a new FDIC commissioner who will be in line with the industry-skeptical bank regulators he has previously appointed.
Biden must also appoint nominees for two empty FDIC director posts, one of which is now filled by Gruenberg on an interim basis. Chopra and Hsu, as CFPB director and acting comptroller of the currency, are de facto members of the FDIC board.