Obama to Nominate Peirce, Fairfax as SEC Commissioners

Obama to Nominate Peirce, Fairfax as SEC Commissioners

The White House said on Tuesday that President Barack Obama intends to nominate Hester Maria Peirce and Lisa Fairfax to be commissioners of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The nominations must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Fairfax, a graduate of Harvard University, is a professor at the George Washington University Law School in Washington. She would serve as a Democratic member on the SEC.

Peirce is a senior research fellow and director of the financial markets working group at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia. She would serve as a Republican member.

Peirce previously worked as senior counsel for the minority staff of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. She spent several years working at the SEC prior to that position.

If confirmed, Fairfax and Peirce would replace outgoing SEC commissioners Luis Aguilar and Daniel Gallagher, who have been serving at an agency that has become deeply divided and hamstrung by politics.

Disagreements have fueled delays in crafting new Wall Street regulations, and differing views on enforcement policy have produced many split votes on whether to file charges against Wall Street actors.

One topic that has proven particularly controversial at the SEC are regulatory waivers. Banks and other companies that break criminal laws or face civil fraud charges must apply to the agency for waivers to keep operating normally.

Last year, SEC Commissioner Kara Stein, a Democrat, began publicly dissenting on waivers, saying the agency was too often rubber-stamping them and creating a policy of "too-big-to-bar."

Aguilar and Stein have often voted in tandem against the waivers. Although they are only two votes on the five-member panel, they have managed to influence the outcome in a few instances where SEC Chair Mary Jo White was recused and unable to cast a tie-breaking vote.

White has said she does not believe waivers should be used as an enforcement tool to deter future misconduct.

White's differing views from Stein on waivers have prompted a backlash from the liberal left, including from Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren.

In June, Warren wrote a scathing letter to White blasting her tenure and raising questions about the agency's policy on waivers.

 

(Reporting by Sarah LynchJulia Edwards and Jeff Mason; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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