Congresswoman Katie Porter on Tuesday rebuked Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for attending a party thrown by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in late January.
The freshman Democratic lawmaker from California pressed Powell on whether those who attended the black-tie event in Washington could have benefited financially by gaining access to Powell and pressuring him to change how the Fed sets interest rate policy. Bezos, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Kellyanne Conway and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon were among those in attendance at Bezos’ house.
“Can you imagine how attending a lavish party at Jeff Bezos’s $23 million home — along with Jared and Ivanka, and the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon — might give off the sense to the public that you are not, in fact, immune from external pressures?” Porter asked Powell during a House Financial Services Committee hearing.
“I would certainly hope not,” said Powell.
In response to Porter’s question about what Powell discussed with Bezos, Trump, Kushner, Conway and Dimon at the party, Powell said he did not speak to any of those individuals. Instead, Powell said he was there to escort his son and his daughter-in-law, who are newly married, and he introduced the couple to General James Mattis, Trump’s former defense secretary.
“I would suggest that attendance at this kind of event with these kinds of people is inconsistent with what I would otherwise commend you on,” said Porter.
Congressman Warren Davidson came to Powell’s defense at the three-hour hearing, where the Fed chair delivered his semiannual testimony to Congress.
“I don’t know we want to say just because you’re at event somehow this is nefarious,” said Davidson, the Ohio Republican, noting that lawmakers also attend such events. “The way that these things are linked for political motives is embarrassingly partisan and bad.”