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March 18, 2013

Mary Jo White Spins the SEC’s Revolving Door

One of the oft-repeated justifications for why Wall Street must be regulated by Wall Streeters is that what goes on there is both so complex and so essential that only those who have been part of it can be trusted to oversee it.

This argument is bunk, of course. It’s nothing more than a way for the financial institutions, and the many Washington politicians who benefit from their considerable largesse, to make sure the status quo gets maintained.

Instead of getting change we can believe in, we had the spectacle of Mary Jo White’s March 12 confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee on her nomination as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The highlight was White, the former U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York turned rainmaker partner at the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, explaining how her years of legal work for the big Wall Street banks won’t influence what enforcement decisions the SEC makes against the very firms that made her — and her husband, John White, a top partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP — very rich. Their disclosure form indicates they are worth more than $16 million.

Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, asked White to explain how she would be able to carry out the commission’s mandate — protecting the small investor — from exploitative behavior by the big guys on Wall Street. “Nobody questions your integrity, but we need some reassurance,” he said. “What have you done over the last decade” on behalf of ordinary investors?”

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Read full Bloomberg View piece here

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