Sen. John Kennedy Draws Praise, Heat, Over Remark to Biden’s Banking Regulator Nominee, USSR-Born Saule Omarova: ‘I Don’t Know Whether To Call You Professor Or Comrade’

Republican Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy blasted President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Saule Omarova, during a Senate Banking hearing Wednesday.

Kennedy asked Omarova about allegations of her membership in past membership communist groups.

Omarova, who grew up in the Soviet Union, said that growing up, everyone was a member of communist organizations because it was part of the academic curriculum.

When asked if she resigned from the communist organizations, Omarova responded by saying “you grow out of it with age.” Kennedy pressed further, asking for records of her resignation, which triggered Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown to interrupt Kennedy.

Kennedy then questioned her academic and professional history, which included the thesis she wrote at Moscow State University, titled “Karl Marx’s Economic Analysis and the Theory of Revolution in The Capital,” and comments she made in 2019 calling the financial sector “a quintessential a**hole industry.”

“In 2020 you wrote a paper called, ‘The People’s Ledger,’ where you said we need to abolish bank accounts and make everybody set up an account with the Fed, where the federal government will have access to your data,” he said.

Continuing, he said “you wrote another paper called, ‘The Climate Case for a National Investment Authority,’ where you said what we need to do to the oil and gas industry is have the federal government bankrupt it so we can tackle climate change.”

“In 2019, you joined…a Marxist Facebook group to discuss socialist and anti-capitalist views,” he added.

“Now that’s what I see from your record. And you have the right to believe every one of these things,” Kennedy continued, addressing Omarova directly. “You do. This is America. But, I don’t mean any disrespect, but I don’t know whether to call you ‘professor’ or ‘comrade.’”

“Senator, I am not a communist, I do not subscribe to that ideology, I could not choose where I was born, I do not remember joining any Facebook group that subscribes to that ideology, I would never knowingly join any such group,” Omarova responded.

Later, Brown lashed out at Kennedy’s remark.

“Calling a nominee comrade — as if we don’t know what that means — is something else. It’s beneath the dignity of this institution,” he said.

Kennedy was not the only Republican to call into question the nominee’s political ideology.

“Prof. Omarova has promoted radical — radical is her description — nationalizing the banking system, imposing government price controls, espousing the idea that money is a public, not a private good, curtailing economic innovation, dramatically limiting economic freedom and choice, having the government seize seats on corporate boards,” said Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania in closing the hearing.

“These are ideas consistent with the socialist view of a command and control economy,” he said.

“The idea that we would put a person with these views as the chief regulator of America’s national banks is deeply disturbing and chilling.”

The Daily Caller News Foundation contributed to this story.