July 17, 2015
SEC Chair Mary Jo White released a statement this week, listing the agency's regulatory accomplishments under Dodd-Frank, while making it clear that the agency is focusing squarely on bolstering the "long-term sustainability of the U.S. financial system," thus implicitly striking back against those who have criticized her for moving too slowly on socially-oriented rules, such as the pay ratio. Chair White emphasized that "lasting reform—not just "checking the box" for a list of rules—is the only way we can safeguard against another financial crisis." The pay ratio was not mentioned by name, with White stating instead that the Commission has "proposed a suite of mandated rules to improve the transparency of executive compensation and require executives to pay back compensation that they were awarded erroneously." The statement appears to be written in light of the scathing criticism White received in a June 2 letter from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) stating that the SEC has not yet completed the final pay ratio rules, and accusing White of lying to her about the timing of the rules. Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that White sent a formal response to Warren, explaining how rulemaking priorities are set and why the internal timing for rules may differ from how they are disclosed in the agency's semiannual regulatory agenda. In addition, the SEC posted on its website a new page detailing the regulatory activity and reports to Congress. It is rumored that the Commission will consider the pay ratio rules on August 5. Hopefully, White's statement is an indication that the SEC will put other, more substantive priorities ahead of completing the political pay ratio disclosure.