Elizabeth Warren just put SEC Chairman Mary Jo White firmly in her crosshairs. White is a deserving target. After being approved based on the promise that she’d reinvigorate a diminished agency via her chops as a former highly respected Federal prosecutor, White instead had specialized in empty promises, foot dragging and financial services cronyism. While these are sadly too common in senior regulatory circles most incumbents do far better than White in presenting a plausible veneer of serving the public interest. By contrast, White’s performance has been so remiss that a fellow Democratic party commissioner, Kara Stein, has gone into open opposition against her, and is regularly joined by the other Democrat commissioner, Luis Aguilar.
Warren’s letter (hat tip Adrien) comes a mere week after another missive calling out White’s dereliction at duty, when three former SEC commissioners blasted White for failing to to move forward on long-overdue rulemaking to require public companies to disclose their political spending.
Warren’s letter is much broader and more damning. It includes the failure to create the long-promised political donations rules and gives a detailed recap of all the times White has given a time estimate as to when they’d be completed, merely to have White promise yet another clearly meaningless due date. Oh, and White had the bad judgment to tell Warren that they’d be done by the fall of this year, only to have the OMB publish the very same day that the SEC had told them they’d be done in April 2016. Warren also blasts White for her pathetic record of getting settlements without admissions of wrongdoing, after promising to change the agency’s course, of failing to restrict the issuance of waivers for companies that have broken securities law (a major target of Stein and Aguilar) and White having to rescue herself almost routinely due to her history as a Wall Street defense attorney and her husband being a senior partner at Cravath. And mind you, Warren doesn’t even get to other widely-criticized White decisions, like her not taking action on high-frequency trading by punting the matter over to further study, or hiring a former Goldman employee to be her chief of staff.
I encourage you to read Warren’s letter in full. It’s a forceful, engaging document and leaves no doubt about how White has not even made a credible pretense at delivering on promises she made during the confirmation process.