In one of the worst kept secrets in the securities world, yesterday SEC Chair Mary Schapiro announced that she would step down on December 14, 2012, and President Obama announced that he intends to designate Elisse Walter, a current SEC Commissioner, as SEC Chair upon Ms. Schapiro’s departure. Ms. Walter will serve as SEC Chair until a long-term successor is found (who will require Senate confirmation), and she is able to serve in this role through next year (because she was previously confirmed by the Senate).
There are many articles describing Ms. Schapiro’s accomplishments during her tenure at the SEC and Ms. Walter’s experiences. Here are pieces from the USA Today, the NY Times, and the AP, among numerous others.
One of the interesting issues we are monitoring in connection with this SEC leadership change is the impact on pending SEC rulemaking initiatives. Ms. Walter, a Democrat, is one of five SEC Commissioners, and her departure to become SEC Chair will leave a 2-2 party line split among Commissioners until President Obama nominates a successor who is confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate. The political and regulatory orientation of the new Commissioner may impact the SEC’s direction on issues ranging from the pending rulemaking to permit general solicitation of accredited investors to the very large number of tardy Dodd-Frank Act-required rulemakings. In addition, although Ms. Walter is regarded as a close ally of Ms. Schapiro, Ms. Walter’s leadership as Chair of the SEC may impact its regulatory priorities on a day-to-day basis.