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Biden chooses CFTC’s Romero to replace Gruenberg as FDIC head

White House announces four nominees for financial posts

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman Martin Gruenberg last month announced his plans to resign amid allegations of a toxic workplace culture.
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman Martin Gruenberg last month announced his plans to resign amid allegations of a toxic workplace culture. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Joe Biden on Thursday said he would nominate Christy Goldsmith Romero to be chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to replace the embattled Martin Gruenberg.  

Romero, a member of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, would take over an agency that has been in the spotlight for months due to allegations of a toxic workplace culture. In a May 20 statement, Gruenberg said he would step down as soon as a replacement is confirmed by the Senate. 

Romero is one of two CFTC officials included among four nominees announced by the White House. Kristin N. Johnson, who also is a CFTC commissioner, will be nominated as assistant Treasury secretary for financial institutions. The president also plans to nominate Gordon I. Ito as a member of the Financial Stability Oversight Council and to renominate Caroline A. Crenshaw as a Securities and Exchange Commission member.  

Gruenberg’s announcement that he would leave the FDIC followed an independent investigation commissioned by the agency. The probe found that the “FDIC has failed to provide a workplace safe from sexual harassment, discrimination and other interpersonal misconduct,” the agency said in a May 7 statement. The investigation confirmed earlier reporting by The Wall Street Journal. 

Prior to the CFTC, Romero worked for 12 years at the Treasury Department. Among her roles there was special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which was created during the financial crisis. She also has been counsel to two former SEC chairs and worked in the agency’s enforcement arm.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, praised Romero’s selection and urged the chamber to move quickly on the nomination.   

“Christy Goldsmith Romero, who has been unanimously confirmed by the Senate twice, would bring to the FDIC decades of financial services experience, including valuable experience as the special inspector general protecting taxpayers at the Troubled Asset Relief Program,” Brown said in a statement. “She has proven herself to be a strong, independent, and fair regulator who is not afraid to do what’s right.”  

Senate Banking ranking member Tim Scott, R-S.C., was circumspect about Romero but said Gruenberg must leave before she is confirmed.

“I will review Christy Goldsmith Romero’s nomination to ensure she has the qualities necessary to support employees, lead the FDIC through the changes it desperately needs, and return credibility to the independent agency,” Scott said in a statement. “But let me be clear – Chairman Gruenberg should resign immediately. Every day he remains Chairman means the agency can’t move forward and heal or begin the process of restoring a respectable, dignified workplace culture at the FDIC.”  

Gruenberg has been on the FDIC board for nearly 20 years. He was sworn in as chairman in January 2023. He previously was chairman from November 2012 to mid-2018. He was vice chairman from August 2005 to July 2011.   

At the CFTC, Romero sponsored the agency’s Technology Advisory Committee, which examines cybersecurity and emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and digital assets, according to a White House statement.