Senate confirms Utahn to the Federal Reserve board

FILE- In this June 14, 2018, file photo, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell, left, and Vice Chair Randal Quarles listen during an open meeting in Washington. The Federal Reserve has given the OK to 32 of the 35 biggest banks in the U.S. to raise their dividends and buy back shares, judging their financial foundations sturdy enough to withstand a major economic downturn. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

Washington • The Senate on Tuesday confirmed a Salt Lake City investor to the board of governors of the Federal Reserve for a 14-year term.

Randal Quarles, the founder and managing director of Salt Lake City-based The Cynosure Group, has been serving on the Federal Reserve board, though his term officially expired in January.

The Senate on Tuesday voted 66-33 to confirm Quarles as a member of the Federal Reserve board through 2032, ending any concern that he was still serving in a role while seeking a vote of the GOP-led chamber.

Utah Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee backed Quarles.

Some Democrats said Quarles, who also serves as the vice chair of supervision at the Fed, was an alarming pick because of his efforts to unravel Wall Street reforms and protections for consumers.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, raised concerns last year when Quarles was confirmed to the Federal Reserve to fill an unexpired term and said this week it has played out as he warned.

“Quarles' record worried many of us that he wasn’t interested in doing actual supervision,” Brown said Monday. “I said he seemed far too ready to swallow financial industry talking points, once again, and relax the rules for Wall Street. Since then, his record at the Federal Reserve has confirmed the worst fears so many of us held.”

Brown voted against Quarles.

Hatch had said last year during Quarles' previous confirmation vote that he was an “eminently qualified” pick for the Fed.

“Through his long experience in public service and the private sector, Mr. Quarles has gained experience in financial regulation, economics, and the firsthand operations of financial institutions,” Hatch said on the Senate floor. “He also has a proven track record of leadership and policy management.”

Quarles, who lists his hometown on Facebook as Roy and has strong Utah ties, was nominated for the Federal Reserve by President Donald Trump and his residence was listed as Colorado.

That move stems from a century-old rule that requires geographical balance for board members.

At the time of Quarles' nomination, Janet Yellen of California chaired the Fed. Utah is included in the same district as that state.

Listing Quarles as living in Colorado, where he lived as a child, allowed his nomination to proceed.

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