“Black, Brown and Native communities are often the first victims of predatory banking and financing,” Vasudha Desikan, the Action Center’s political director, said in a statement emailed to journalists on Thursday. “We need a longtime advocate for racial and economic justice, like Mehrsa Baradaran, who understands this and can close the deepening racial wealth gap.”
The fight reached a new pitch on Friday when Al Pina, the co-founder of the National Minority Community Reinvestment Cooperative, emailed 8,300 people, including everyone serving on President Biden’s transition team, and declared he would go on a hunger strike if Mr. Barr was confirmed.
“I for one have had enough and will not allow my economic civil rights advocacy to end up where we did not make one difference,” Mr. Pina wrote. “I would rather die trying to build true racial economic inclusion than live knowing we made no difference to the hundreds of millions of Blacks and Latinos who dream of a better life economically.”
Although she is far less likely to get the job, Ms. Baradaran also has support from at least one powerful lawmaker, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, according to a member of Mr. Brown’s staff who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Ms. Baradaran declined to comment.
Mr. Barr’s supporters say he will be a more palatable choice than Ms. Baradaran for moderate Democrats and Republicans in the Senate who have the power over whether Mr. Biden’s choice for the job is confirmed. Ms. Baradaran, they say, also lacks the experience in government that Mr. Barr got during his time at the Treasury Department.
They also point to a legacy his critics concede is significant: Mr. Barr was instrumental in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is devoted specifically to monitoring how financial institutions treat their customers and punishing them when they go astray. While at the Treasury Department, Mr. Barr played a big role in drafting plans for the new regulator, which were included in the Dodd-Frank reform law.
Adam Levitin, a professor at Georgetown Law School, said that although Ms. Baradaran is known for her work on the racial wealth gap, Mr. Barr has his own chops there.