Comrade Down: Senate Forces Biden to Dump OCC Nominee, Lenin Scholar

Five Senate Democrats tell Biden they won't back Lenin scholarship winner Saule Omarova

Saule Omarova in 2018 / Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
November 24, 2021

Five Senate Democrats told the White House late Wednesday they will not support Lenin scholarship recipient Saule Omarova to serve as Comptroller of the Currency, nuking her chances to serve as the country’s bank regulator.

The Democrats—Sens. Jon Tester (D., Mont.), Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.), Mark Kelly (D., Ariz.), Mark Warner (D., Va.), and John Hickenlooper (D., Colo.)—join all Senate Republicans in opposition to Omarova, who came under scrutiny over her proposals to use the banking system to "bankrupt" the oil and gas industry and her education in the Soviet Union. Axios reported Wednesday that the Democrats informed the White House they will not support Biden's nominee.

The failed nomination marks a major setback for progressives, who championed Omarova over her criticism of big banks and fossil fuel companies. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) hailed Omarova’s nomination as "tremendous news." The left-wing Sierra Club touted Omarova as a bulwark against "climate chaos" and hoped she would set up "guardrails against Wall Street's risky fossil fuel investments."

Omarova faced questions about her academic history throughout the confirmation process. Omarova in recent years scrubbed her resume of references to a thesis she wrote about Karl Marx while studying on a Lenin scholarship at Moscow State University in the 1980s. Omarova disavowed the thesis at her confirmation hearing this month, but said she did not have a copy of the document.

Omarova was arrested in 1995 on charges she stole $214 in merchandise from a T.J. Maxx store in Madison, Wisc., where she was studying for her doctorate degree.