POLITICS

The Tide Is Turning Against Obama's Pro-Wall Street SEC Pick

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 21:  Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Jo White delivers remarks February 21, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 21: Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Jo White delivers remarks February 21, 2014 in Washington, DC. White spoke at the annual ÒThe SEC SpeaksÓ conference. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

More than 110,000 people have signed a petition to remove Mary Jo White as chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission because she is too close to Wall Street to regulate it effectively, progressive group Credo said in a release.

The number of signatures gathered to replace a regulator who is relatively unknown outside Washington, D.C., policy circles is "pretty astounding, for something that wonky," Credo's political director, Becky Bond, told HuffPost. For comparison, she noted that the campaign to draft the much more visible U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to run for president, gathered 365,000 signatures.

A June 16 report from Rootstrikers, a campaign finance reform group, criticized White for being to close to the financial firms that she used to represent as a corporate attorney.

Rootstrikers pointed out that White has also been unable to cast the deciding vote in cases that her husband, who is a corporate lawyer, has an interest in. When the SEC's two Republican and two Democratic commissioners are deadlocked, the chair acts as a tiebreaker. More broadly, Democrats are disappointed that White, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, often votes with the two Republican commissioners and against the Democratic commissioners.

That criticism came two weeks after Warren blasted White for "misleading" her in a private meeting about how quickly the agency would act to implement a new rule requiring companies to make additional disclosures on CEO pay. The same day White promised Warren the rule would be put in place by the fall, plans were released that delayed implementation until April 2016.

In May, a Bloomberg Businessweek article assessing White's time at the SEC concluded that her "two-year tenure heading the securities regulator has been marked largely by discord and paralysis rather than accomplishments."

Bond pointed out that during White's tenure as chairwoman, "routinely the SEC says, oh no we're not going to take away the privileges that are automatically supposed to be revoked when you admit to criminal activity." Most recently, the SEC granted waivers to each of the banks that pleaded guilty to criminal behavior in a recent settlement with the Department of Justice.

The SEC didn't return a request for comment.

HuffPost

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