The Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan independent watchdog, has called on President Obama to remove SEC Chair Mary Jo White.
When you nominated White to head the SEC, we raised concerns about her recent history representing powerhouse Wall Street firms such as JPMorgan and UBS. We warned that she would have to either 1) recuse herself from overseeing former clients, making her an ineffective agency leader, or 2) be allowed to work on SEC matters that affect those clients, despite the obvious conflict of interest.
We’re sorry to say that our predictions have come true. Since joining your Administration, White has had to sit on the sidelines when the SEC took action in high-profile cases against JPMorgan and Bank of America because of her potential conflicts. As of February 2015, White had recused herself from more than 48 enforcement actions, according to The New York Times—including at least 10 cases where the company or individual under investigation was represented by her husband’s law firm.
Meanwhile, White has been granted waivers from the ethics pledge you asked your appointees to sign. Those waivers allowed her to oversee her former client, Credit Suisse, after the Swiss bank pleaded guilty to helping U.S. taxpayers file false tax returns over the course of several decades.
Now that her cooling off period has expired under the ethics pledge, White won’t even need a waiver to oversee her former Wall Street clients. Meanwhile, the SEC under White’s tenure has with few exceptions continued to appoint representatives of Wall Street to some of the agency’s top positions. Just last month, the SEC named a senior Goldman Sachs lawyer as the agency’s chief of staff.[citations omitted]