Former Senate Aide, GWU Law Professor Tapped for SEC

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By Phyllis Diamond

Oct. 20 — President Obama said Oct. 20 that he intends to nominate Hester Maria Peirce, a former Senate Banking Committee aide, and Lisa Fairfax, a George Washington University law professor, to serve on the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Earlier this year, Peirce, director of the Financial Markets Working Group at George Mason University's Mercatus Center, was said to be the leading candidate for the Republican slot recently vacated by Commissioner Daniel Gallagher. She is a well-known critic of the regulatory expansion prompted by the financial crisis.

If confirmed, Fairfax will succeed Commissioner Luis Aguilar, a Democrat whose term expired earlier this year. He is staying on at the commission until a replacement is on board.


Before joining the Mercatus Center, Peirce was senior counsel for the minority staff of the Senate Banking Committee. She also was an SEC staff member, first as a lawyer in the Division of Investment Management and then as counsel to then-Commissioner Paul Atkins.

Earlier in her legal career, Peirce was an associate at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, now known as WilmerHale, and clerked for Judge Roger Andewelt on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

Peirce graduate from Case Western Reserve and Yale Law School.


Fairfax has served on the executive board and as director for programs at the George Washington Center for Law, Economics and Finance since 2009. She also has held several other academic positions and was a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's National Adjudicatory Council and FINRA's NASDAQ Market Regulation Committee. Fairfax also practiced law in the private sector as a Ropes & Gray LLP associate.

Fairfax earned undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University, the White House said.

If confirmed, the candidates will join a commission facing criticism over Chairman Mary Jo White's ties to Wall Street, a number of lawsuits, and a demanding rulemaking agenda.

Wasting little time, Democratic Senators Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), and Robert Menendez (N.J.) have scheduled a press conference for Oct. 21 to urge the nominees to support a rule requiring public companies to disclose their corporate political spending.

In an e-mail, Peirce declined to comment. Fairfax didn't respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

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To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Jenkins at