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March 12, 2013

Statement on SEC Chairman Nominee Mary Jo White’s Nomination Hearing

The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing today on the nomination of Mary Jo White to be the next Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

“The most important statement made by Ms. White today was that, if confirmed, ‘the American public would be her client.’  She also said she intended to quickly and thoroughly implement the financial reform law, which was passed to protect the American people from another devastating financial and economic crisis,” said Dennis Kelleher, President of Better Markets, Inc., an independent nonprofit organization that promotes the public interest in the financial markets.

“To prove that, she emphasized the importance of enforcing the law ‘vigorously’ against anyone who breaks the law, including the biggest too-big-to-fail banks on Wall Street and their executives. Ending the double standard of throwing the book at Main Street while letting Wall Street off the hook has to be a priority and Ms. White said it would be.  Making that clear, she said without qualification that ‘no institution is too big to charge,’” Mr. Kelleher said.

“Ms. White also said a number of other encouraging things about key financial reform rules:  that the Volcker Rule ban on high risk proprietary trading was clear and she intended to enforce it; that the systemic risk of money market funds must end; that credit rating agency conflicts of interest must be regulated; that economic analysis must include consideration of the costs to taxpayers and the country, not just industry; and that executive compensation rules have to be issued,” said Mr. Kelleher.

“However, making statements at a confirmation hearing, no matter how genuine, are much easier than actually doing the right thing if confirmed.  That is why Better Markets launched a webpage entitled ‘SEC Watch,’ which is dedicated to monitoring the SEC and Ms. White (if she is confirmed) in the coming months and years.  It will report on whether or not she is putting her words into action; putting the public, investors and our markets first; vigorously enforcing the law against all without fear or favor; and implementing the financial reform law quickly, thoroughly and in a way that protects the American people,” Mr. Kelleher said.

“Many are asking, is Mary Jo White going to the be the White Knight that saves the tarnished reputation of the SEC or the defense lawyer with whitewash intent on helping hide yet more of Wall Street’s illegal activities?  We hope and believe the former, but either way, Better Markets will be watching, keeping score and publicly reporting on how she, and the SEC, does,” Mr. Kelleher concluded.

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