SEC’s White Continues to Face Criticism on Capitol Hill

Mary Jo WhiteSEC Chairman Mary Jo White has become a favorite target of lawmakers in both parties  it was more of the same on Tuesday.  Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), at an event in Washington, ripped Chair White, saying, “The SEC, under the leadership of Mary Jo White, has been singularly uninterested in using its authority to secure transparency and accountability.”

Merkley’s comments echoed those of frequent White antagonist, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).  During a June Senate Banking Committee hearing, during which White testified, Warren said she had “never been more disappointed” in White’s tenure leading the commission.

Warren has been sharply critical of the SEC’s Disclosure Effectiveness Project, expressing concern that the agency’s review will lead to a paring back of required disclosures that could harm investors.  The war of words escalated in July when Warren sent a letter to White accusing the chairman of wasting agency resources in an effort to change corporate disclosure requirements while falling behind on congressionally mandated rulemakings.

The criticism hasn’t just come from the left.  Both parties have been critical at the pace of rulemaking under White, as significant portions of Dodd-Frank still have not been implemented.

The criticism hasn’t prevented White from moving forward.  In a speech last week, White detailed her priorities through the end of the year.  Those included further action on the consolidated audit trail, an anti-disruptive trading rule, a measure to increase dark-pool transparency, a pilot program on exchange fees and the distinction between dealers and traders.

However, with a presidential election less than two months away, a change in leadership at the SEC in the first quarter of 2017 would seem likely.  That leaves White little time to finish her work.