(Bloomberg) -- Two Democratic senators urged the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland to be more transparent in its search for a new president, involve key community groups and consider diverse candidates.

In a letter Tuesday, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, who also serves on the panel, criticized the input process so far, pointing to the timing and lack of publicity for a virtual town hall event held Monday.

“It is critical that the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank makes the presidential selection process transparent and inclusive of public opinion,” wrote Brown and Fetterman, both of whom hail from the Cleveland Fed’s district. “As you move through the selection process, we highly encourage you to seek input from a wide range of stakeholders including labor, consumer, and civil rights groups.”

The lawmakers also urged the search committee to consider a diverse pool of candidates, noting that the Cleveland Fed has never had a Black president, despite 13% of Ohio’s population being Black.

A Cleveland Fed spokesperson confirmed that the bank received the letter Tuesday and said the search committee appreciates the questions and will respond to the senators promptly. 

The bank launched its search earlier this month for a successor to President Loretta Mester, whose tenure ends next June. The district encompasses Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky and part of northern West Virginia.

Its leader will hold a voting position on the Federal Open Market Committee in 2024, helping decide how long interest rates will remain high and whether to hike again or start cutting.

 

Read More: Cleveland Fed Starts Search to Replace Mester by June 2024 

The Fed’s 12 reserve banks are semi-private entities with boards of directors. Non-bank members of those boards lead the search for new presidents in a process that is often opaque, and critics complain that it has often led to the appointment of Fed insiders — rather than diverse voices — to the job. 

Chicago Fed President Austan Goolsbee’s appointment late last year drew criticism for being politically skewed, while the Kansas City Fed took more than a year to appoint Jeffrey Schmid in the longest search for a president this century.

Brown and Fetterman asked the Cleveland search committee for more details about the timeline for the search, whether there would be more public-engagement events and to what extent the committee has sought input from its advisory councils.

The senators also pointed to the bank failures in March as an example of the importance of regional bank leadership. The Fed banks, along with other federal and state regulators, are responsible for supervising regional and community banks.

(Updates with comment from the Cleveland Fed.)

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