March 18, 2016
After months of delays, nomination hearings for the two vacant SEC Commissioner posts were held this week, during which Republican nominee Hester Peirce and Democrat nominee Lisa Fairfax avoided staking out firm policy positions in response to several sharp lines of questioning from Senate Banking Committee members. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) questioned both candidates on whether or not they would support a political spending disclosure requirement. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) pressed Republican nominee Peirce, known for her outspoken opposition to the Dodd-Frank Act, on whether she would "sabotage" efforts to implement important financial reforms. Peirce reassured the Senator she would follow the law and SEC rules. On the Republican side, Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD), sponsor of the Senate's pay ratio repeal bill, queried Democrat nominee Ms. Fairfax on her support of a significant expansion of shareholder rights. Like Ms. Peirce, Ms. Fairfax sidestepped the questions, noting her views pertain to the larger corporate governance picture. Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has stated that a committee vote on the nominees will likely take place on April 7, with a final Senate vote on the nominees later that month. Upon approval, the newly minted SEC Commissioners will join an SEC which has been shorthanded with only three of five Commissioners since the beginning of the year. The new Commissioners will have only a short window to get acclimated before SEC Chair Mary Jo White is likely to initiate rulemaking again at the agency, including final rules on the Dodd-Frank clawbacks requirement and pay for performance disclosures.