Senate Unanimously Confirms the First Prosecutor to Head SEC

April 12, 2013

By unanimous consent this week, the Senate confirmed Mary Jo White as the next Chairman of the SEC with speculation underway as to what her priorities will be in terms of  Dodd-Frank rulemaking, especially the executive compensation provisions.  White is the first former prosecutor to lead the SEC, and President Obama has touted her enforcement credentials.  Yet, her most recent work has been in private practice representing large corporations, which initially raised some eyebrows in the Senate Banking Committee.  Regardless of her priorities, Ms. White faces the departure of two of the five commissioners at some point this year.  White’s predecessor, Elisse Walter, must step down by year’s end and may leave much sooner.  Just last week, Commissioner Walter told reporters that she had not decided whether she will remain as a Commissioner, stating: “Mary Jo and I will talk about that and I will decide in the near term.”  If Walter does decide to leave, the Commission would remain in a deadlock with two Democrat and two Republican commissioners, making it unlikely that any controversial rules would be passed until three Democrat commissioners are confirmed.  In addition, the term of Republican Commissioner Troy Paredes will expire on June 13, and he is not expected to seek re-nomination.  This makes it likely that the President will seek to nominate two Commissioners to replace Walter and Paredes later this year.