On December 7, Saule Omarova, who had been President Biden’s nominee to serve as Comptroller of the Currency, withdrew from the running.
“At this point in the process, however, it is no longer tenable for me to continue as a Presidential nominee,” wrote Omarova.
The comptroller leads the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates federally chartered banks. The crypto industry’s engagement with the OCC peaked during the brief tenure of Brian Brooks, who subsequently took on roles at the head of Binance and then Bitfury.
Omarova’s nomination faced opposition from Republicans and moderate Democrats like Mark Warner and John Tester on the Senate Banking Committees. Members were concerned over her writings as a Cornell Law professor, which they identified as being fundamentally anti-bank.
Omarova’s background lent a measure of ugliness to the proceedings. A Kazakh national born and educated in the USSR, Omarova faced questions over, for example, an undergraduate thesis on Karl Marx.
In her confirmation hearing before the Banking Committee, Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) attacked Omarova’s membership in the Komsomol, a communist youth organization ubiquitous within the Soviet Union. In a statement upon Omarova’s withdrawal, committee chairman Sherrod Brown denounced the process as “a relentless smear campaign reminiscent of red scare McCarthyism.”
For the time being, Michael Hsu remains at the head of the OCC in an acting capacity, with some speculating that he will be the administration’s new nominee.