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Former Fed staffers urge U.S. Senate to reject Shelton nomination

(Reuters) - A group of former Federal Reserve staffers, including economists, lawyers and bank presidents, sent a letter to U.S. senators Thursday asking them to reject the nomination of Judy Shelton, one of President Donald Trump’s picks for the Federal Reserve Board.

The Fed alumni said Shelton, who has advocated for a return to the gold standard and questioned the need for the central bank, has “a decades-long record of writings and statements that call into question her fitness for a spot on the Fed’s Board of Governors.” The letter, which is still open for signatures, was signed by 44 former Fed staffers as of Friday morning. The list included former vice chairman Alan Blinder and at least three previous Fed bank presidents, including Richard Fisher, former president of the Dallas Fed.

"The Fed has serious work ahead of it," the former Fed staffers wrote here. "While we applaud the Board having a diversity of viewpoints represented at its table, Ms. Shelton's views are so extreme and ill-considered as to be an unnecessary distraction from the tasks at hand."

The Senate Banking Committee confirmed Shelton’s nomination last month with a 13-12 party-line vote, despite a rocky confirmation hearing in mid-February, when several senators expressed concerns about placing the longtime Fed critic in a role that would give her a say on U.S. monetary policy.

Shelton’s nomination must now be approved by the full Senate, where the deciding votes may come from a handful of moderate Republicans. At least four Republicans would need to vote against Shelton to sink the nomination.

U.S. Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Senator Mitt Romney of Utah have both said they would vote against Shelton’s nomination. Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said in late July that he would “study carefully the records” for Shelton and Christopher Waller, Trump’s other nominee to the Fed board, after the Senate finishes working on virus legislation.

Reporting by Jonnelle Marte; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama