The White House said Monday it is reviewing Stephen Moore’s controversial past writings about women, a sign that his potential candidacy to the Federal Reserve Board could be in trouble.
"Certainly we’re reviewing those comments. When we have an update on that front we’ll let you know,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday.
Moore apologized Sunday for the remarks, which have caused a firestorm. Much of the controversy centers on columns he wrote in National Review in the early 2000s denouncing coed sports, arguing that female athletes were seeking “equal pay for inferior work” and saying that only good-looking women should be allowed to be referees or sports reporters.
“These articles you’re talking about were 17, 18 years ago. They were humor columns, but some of them weren’t funny, so I am apologetic,” Moore said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.”
Moore voiced similar regrets on a conservative radio show Sunday, saying that he was “embarrassed” by the “wrongheaded” columns he wrote and that his own sisters were offended by them.
But Moore was adamant that he didn’t think his past statements about women should disqualify him from the Fed. He called articles about his past a “character assassination,” likening it to what Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh went through during his confirmation process.
Conservative firm CRC Public Relations is helping to promote Moore, much as it did for Kavanaugh last year.
“I’m not saying I’m an angel, but I’m just saying that these kinds of things don’t have a lot to do with whether I’m qualified to be on the Federal Reserve Board and setting interest rates,” Moore told “The Cats Roundtable with John Catsimatidis.”
Moore called the nomination process “brutal” Sunday but said he plans to continue fighting for his confirmation. The White House has yet to formally nominate him, but he is undergoing an intensive background check.
Moore has made discomfiting comments about women more recently, including saying in 2012 that the best part about working at Fox News Channel “is I have met a lot of beautiful women” and in 2014, when he argued that women earning more than men “could be disruptive to family stability.”
A growing roster of economists and Democratic politicians have called on Moore to withdraw from consideration, arguing that he is unqualified for the job and would taint the independence of the Fed, which could make it more difficult for the central bank to act in times of crisis.
Trump “would like to clip [the Fed’s] wings by placing sycophants like Moore on its board. Economists and businesspeople, almost to a man and woman, think this is a terrible idea,” former Fed vice chairman Alan Blinder wrote in an article in Foreign Affairs last week.
Moore, an adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign and author of the book “Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive Our Economy,” said Sunday that the stock market would tank if a Democrat is elected president in 2020 and that liberal ideas are a “real danger” to the economy.
“If people actually thought these [Democratic] ideas were going to come into play and enter the White House, you would see the biggest sell-off in the stock market in American history,” Moore said.
Republicans hold a 53-to-47 majority in the Senate, and Moore probably would need almost every GOP vote to be confirmed, including the party’s female senators. Herman Cain, Trump’s other nominee to fill one of the final two seats on the Fed board, withdrew from consideration after four GOP senators spoke out against him.
No Republican senators have said publicly that they would not vote for Moore, but it is expected that his confirmation would be difficult. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has sent Moore two letters with detailed questions about his connection to conservative causes, his past statements calling for Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell to resign and for significant changes in central bank policies such as returning to the gold standard.
It also has come to light that Moore was held in contempt of court for not paying his ex-wife more than $330,000 in child support and alimony in 2013 and that the Club for Growth, a conservative advocacy organization, had to pay a $350,000 fine to the Federal Election Commission for improper actions while Moore was the group’s president.
Moore holds a master’s degree in economics from George Mason University and has spent many years as an economics fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. He was an adviser to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and remains close to the president and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, both of whom continue to support Moore.
“I’m not going to back down from this fight. The president is solidly behind me,” Moore said.