Bloomberg Law
Nov. 11, 2020, 2:27 AM

Biden Taps Government Insiders for Transition Aid as Trump Balks

Jennifer Epstein
Jennifer Epstein
Bloomberg News

President-elect Joe Biden’s transition has turned to alumni from key federal agencies to prepare staffs and policies for the new administration, even as the Trump administration denies Biden’s team access to federal resources.

The agency-review teams focused on the economy and financial regulation, whose names were released Tuesday, include former officials and advocates with well-known records of pushing for tougher rules on Wall Street. That includes former U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler, who will head the team that is reviewing the Federal Reserve and banking and securities regulators.

Biden’s transition team has the added complication of preparing a government without being allowed into the agencies, as has traditionally happened within hours of a race being called. The General Services Administration, which under law must ascertain the winner of an election to give a president-elect access to federal resources, has declined to take that step as President Donald Trump continues to contest the election results.

Without that support, Biden’s team is forging ahead on its own. “We must be prepared for a seamless transfer of knowledge to the incoming administration to protect our interests at home and abroad. The agency review process will help lay the foundation for meeting these challenges on Day One,” transition co-chair Ted Kaufman said in a statement.

Gensler is the biggest name with Wall Street ties who’s part of the agency-review process. He is a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner who joined President Bill Clinton’s Treasury Department. Gensler was later appointed CFTC chairman by President Barack Obama.

His role in Biden’s transition might make some on Wall Street uneasy. When Gensler led the CFTC, he implemented new rules that made him a scourge of banks’ lucrative swaps-trading desks. He also pushed investigations into the manipulation of benchmark interest rates that resulted in firms paying billions of dollars in penalties.

Others on Gensler’s team include Dennis Kelleher of Better Markets, a group that advocates for tougher regulation, and Amanda Fischer, the former chief of staff to California Representative Katie Porter, who also supports tighter market rules.

Don Graves, a former KeyBank executive and longtime Biden aide, is leading the Treasury Department team, which also includes former Obama administration Council of Economic Advisers member Betsey Stevenson, New York University economist Lily Batchelder -- whose paper on taxing the rich was cited in Biden’s campaign tax plan -- and AFL-CIO official Damon Silvers.

Leandra English, who was deputy director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from 2017 to 2018 and the plaintiff in a lawsuit arguing that she should be named acting director of the bureau, is leading its review team.

The economist Brad Setser is a volunteer with the Office of the United States Trade Representative team. He is on leave from the Council on Foreign Relations, according to the organization’s website.

Shara Mohtadi of Bloomberg Philanthropies is a volunteer member of the team for the Council on Environmental Quality. Bloomberg Philanthropies is the philanthropic organization of Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, which owns Bloomberg News.

(Updates by adding the economist Brad Setser, in 10th paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story:
Jennifer Epstein in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Wendy Benjaminson at;
Jesse Westbrook at

Max Berley, John Harney

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