In the wake of the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, Mary Jo White has announced her intent to step down from her role as Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Chair White, the 31st and one of the longest-serving Chairs of the SEC, will be leaving her post at the end of the Obama administration in January.
The outcome of the election and Chair White’s announcement are sure to kick off an avalanche of prognostication about her successor, the direction of the SEC, and the fate of some of the laws that govern the securities industry, most principally the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. There is already speculation that President-elect Trump will designate a Chair who is a proponent of smaller government and deregulation to steer the agency charged with overseeing the securities industry.
Beyond designating a Chair, however, President-elect Trump will be in a position to overhaul the makeup of the SEC during his administration. Upon assuming office, President-elect Trump will be authorized to appoint three of the five SEC Commissioners, in addition to designating the next Chair – with a fourth Commissioner appointment as early as June of 2017. This is particularly important in an agency that relies on Commissioner votes for each decision, order, rule or similar action. However, despite his broad appointment powers, President-elect Trump will not be permitted to remove any of the remaining Commissioners, nor will he be permitted to “stack the deck” by appointing only Republicans to fill all of the open Commissioner seats. Continue Reading