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Opinion: Selling public lands to balance the federal budget is not a choice for Coloradans

Judy Shelton, a President Trump pick to be on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, believes the federal government should sell off America’s public lands to balance the federal budget.  

In her 2009 book, Money Meltdown, Shelton advised that the U.S. government should sell off its numerous federal land holdings, including public lands, in order to expedite the achievement of a balanced budget.

Yes, you heard that right. Not only would this endanger America’s outdoor heritage, but in the process of dismantling the reasons we call Colorado home, it won’t balance anything.

Jamie Park

Shelton was nominated to the Federal Reserve Board in January 2020. Essentially, the board guides U.S. Central Bank activities, conducts monetary policy, issues regulations under most federal consumer credit protection laws and has broad responsibility for the U.S. payments system. 

At her hearing in front of the Senate Banking Committee, she was roundly criticized for her views on monetary policy and public lands management.  

One Republican senator called her advocacy for the Federal Reserve to reduce U.S. interest rates in response to rate cuts by other central banks, and to prevent the U.S. dollar from becoming stronger, a very dangerous path.  

The response from Republican Sen. John Kennedy was: “Nobody wants anybody on the Federal Reserve that has a fatal attraction to nutty ideas.” As a former banker, I agree. Nevertheless, a 13-12 vote along party lines in late July advanced her nomination to the full Senate.

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Colorado’s U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet may have said it best and most succinctly as to why Coloradans and the rest of the nation would fare badly with Ms. Shelton on the Fed Board:

“… Her extremist views on monetary policy would undermine the Federal Reserve’s longtime tradition of independence and nonpartisanship. On several occasions, Shelton has wondered whether America even needs a central bank. … She has advocated returning to the gold standard, a policy that was abandoned after it helped precipitate the Great Depression … her extreme partisan record risks politicizing the Federal Reserve … She has … supported selling off our public lands, which is unacceptable to communities across our state.” 

With Senate Banking Committee approval, the prospect of Shelton as a Fed member is no longer remote. And that’s a frightful vision. Among her outlandish views, she has supported the abolition of the Federal Reserve itself, putting her in a position to undermine the very institution she is being nominated to serve. 

It reminds me of William Perry Pendley (whom Trump manages to keep as Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management without Senate approval). Pendley has advocated for selling off all of America’s public lands, and paradoxically remains in charge of protecting nearly 240 million acres of public land, most of it in the western U.S.

As a parent of two young boys, I cherish Colorado’s public lands. I and many other Coloradans are raising their families here for the outdoor quality of life. In many ways living here with access to some of the most incredible landscapes in the world is special and why we choose to raise our family in Colorado.

In these times of COVID, our mountains, rivers, community parks and trails have been essential as we all look to get outside and take a break in more wide open spaces. 

To think that if Shelton made it to the Fed Board she might persuade the president to sell our signature outdoors to deal with his historic budget deficits is crazy, but it’s also possible.

In the end, Senate Republicans on the Banking Committee gave Shelton the thumbs up despite their expressed concerns. We can only trust that the full Senate will be a lot more perceptive to the looming dangers.


Jamie Park is a former manager of a national bank branch in the Denver metro area, specializing in small business banking and finance. She is an active outdoor enthusiast and the mom of two active boys and lives in Denver.


The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the newsroom. Read our ethics policy for more on The Sun’s opinion policy and submit columns, suggested writers and more to opinion@coloradosun.com.

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