Washington continues to see changes following the election of Donald Trump. The SEC is one agency where the change will likely be dramatic.
Mary Jo White served as Chair of the SEC from April 2013 – January 2017. Ms. White, a former U.S. Attorney, was known for her aggressive prosecutorial tendencies and the SEC under her charge reflected such. Enforcement actions and both civil and criminal charges grew under her tenure.
President Trump’s selection to replace Ms. White is Jay Clayton. Mr. Clayton is a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell and has represented many of the firms he will (if approved by the Senate) ultimately regulate. Some Democrats worry that a lawyer with such close ties to Wall Street will lack the desire to continue the tough enforcement environment established by his predecessor.
Certainly the SEC under Mr. Clayton will be different from that of Ms. White. While the agency loses a prosecutor, they add a Chair with experience and understanding of the need for corporations to raise capital. This is certainly a dynamic shift in philosophies (and likely priorities).
It remains to early to tell how a Jay Clayton SEC will influence investors and the securities industry. One thing is for certain, we can expect a decline in the number of enforcement actions coming out of the agency in the years to come.