POLITICS
05/07/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

White House, Sanders In Talks Over Controversial Nomination

The White House and Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, are in talks to resolve differences surrounding a controversial nomination to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a Sanders spokesman tells the Huffington Post.

The White House has tapped Gary Gensler to lead the commission, a post he is unfit for, Sanders says, because of his previous advocacy of removing regulations on the precise kinds of trades he'd be charged now with regulating.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) seemed to be pushing the nomination toward a conclusion. A reporter mentioned the hold that Sanders had placed on the nomination and asked if Reid would be moving forward.

"Yes, we will move forward on it," he responded.

A Reid aide noted, however, that Sanders is in discussion with the White House and that no final decision had yet been made on how to proceed.

Sanders, in his initial statement, said that Gensler's record of supporting deregulation disqualified him. "While Mr. Gensler clearly is an intelligent and knowledgeable person, I cannot support his nomination. Mr. Gensler worked with Senators Phil Gramm and Alan Greenspan to exempt credit default swaps from regulation, which led to the collapse of A.I.G. and has resulted in the largest taxpayer bailout in U.S. history. He supported Gramm-Leach-Bliley, which allowed banks like Citigroup to become 'too big to fail.' He worked to deregulate electronic energy trading, which led to the downfall of Enron and the spike in energy prices. At this moment in our history, we need an independent leader who will help create a new culture in the financial marketplace and move us away from the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior which has caused so much harm to our economy," said.

Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said he is hopeful that the president and Sanders can resolve their differences. "The senator is holding discussions with the administration and others and hopes the administration hears the concerns of many Americans that there should be greater diversity of opinion and prior experience among the president's economic advisers," he said. "Senator Sanders is optimistic that the matter can be amicably resolved in a way that is good for the president and good for the American people."

Gensler's defenders cite his co-authorship of the book The Great Mutual Fund Trap: How Americans Are Losing Billions to the Mutual Fund and Brokerage Industries--and How You Can Earn More with Less Risk, which takes on mutual fund mangers, as evidence that he can be critical of the financial industry establishment.