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FDIC Chair Gruenberg says he is 'prepared to step down' after report reveals toxic workplace

By Chris Benson & Sheri Walsh
FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg said Monday he is "prepared to step down" from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation "once a successor is confirmed," after a recent report detailed a toxic FDIC workplace culture. File Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI
1 of 4 | FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg said Monday he is "prepared to step down" from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation "once a successor is confirmed," after a recent report detailed a toxic FDIC workplace culture. File Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

May 20 (UPI) -- FDIC Chair Martin Gruenberg said Monday he is "prepared to step down" from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation "once a successor is confirmed," after a damning report revealed the agency's toxic workplace and a culture of bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination.

"It has been my honor to serve at the FDIC as chairman, vice chairman and director since August of 2005. Throughout that time I have faithfully carried out the critically important mission of the FDIC to maintain public confidence and stability in the banking system," Gruenberg said Monday in a statement.

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"In light of recent events, I am prepared to step down from my responsibilities once a successor is confirmed. Until that time, I will continue to fulfill my responsibilities as chairman of the FDIC, including the transformation of the FDIC's workplace culture."

Earlier Monday, the Senate's Democrat Banking Committee chair called for "fundamental changes" at the FDIC in the wake of the critical report.

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While Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, did not directly call for Gruenberg to step down, he said in a Monday letter how he was "left with one conclusion" that called for "fundamental changes at the FDIC" after he chaired a hearing last week, reviewed the 234-page independent report and after "receiving further outreach from FDIC employees to the Banking and Housing Committee."

Gruenberg has been the FDIC's chief since his 2023 appointment by President Joe Biden. If he resigns or is removed before a confirmation, Vice Chair Travis Hill, a Republican appointee, would then step-in as chair until Biden appoints a replacement and that person is confirmed by the Senate.

Among its many grievances, the independent report says how "a number of" FDIC employees "recounted homophobic statements made by their Field Office Supervisor, including referring to gay men as 'little girls,' resulting in one of them, at least, believing he had to hide that he was gay."

"Those changes begin with new leadership, who must fix the agency's toxic culture and put the women and men who work there -- and their mission -- first," Brown said in a statement. "That's why I'm calling on the president to immediately nominate a new chair who can lead the FDIC at this challenging time and for the Senate to act on that nomination without delay."

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In a release, Brown added how he "expects" that Senate leaders and its Banking and Housing Committee members "will put politics aside and join this effort to bring new leadership to the agency to ensure a safe workplace for the women and men who protect our financial system."

Former FDIC Chair Sheila Bair, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, also joined calls for Gruenberg to leave his post, saying Monday that "there is a desperate need for change at the FDIC."

"I have known and worked with Chairman Gruenberg for years," Bair said on X. "This controversy is hurting him and his agency. For his own sake and everyone at the FDIC, he should announce his intention to resign effective with the appointment and confirmation of a new chair."

For his part, Gruenberg previously told lawmakers he took "full responsibility" for the report's findings which interviewed 500 FDIC employees although the report did not explicitly put all blame on Gruenberg.

"I also acknowledge my own failures as chairman, both in failing to recognize how my temperament in meetings impacted others and for not having identified deeper cultural issues at the FDIC sooner," he said last week.

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Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., on Sunday noted on social media that President Joe Biden "pledged to fire anyone who treats their employees with disrespect" as he asked why Gruenberg was still leading the FDIC.

"Because Democrats have prioritized their progressive regulatory agenda over the safety of FDIC employees," the former presidential candidate said on X.

Last Wednesday, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., also took to social media to say "it's long past time" for Gruenberg to resign.

"He has destroyed bipartisanship at the FDIC," Tillis posted on X. "He is guilty and documented for a toxic work environment."

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