Senate Confirms Rutledge, SEC Commissioners

Before heading out of town for the Christmas holiday, the Senate managed to make some key regulatory agency confirmations.

By voice vote on Dec. 21, the Senate approved Preston Rutledge to be assistant secretary of Labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration. Rutledge, whose nomination was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee earlier this month, will replace former Assistant Secretary Phyllis Borzi, who served for eight years in the Obama administration. One of the top items on Rutledge’s agenda will be overseeing the implementation of, and any potential changes to, the fiduciary rule.

The Senate also approved by voice vote Hester Peirce and Robert Jackson to be commissioners at the Securities and Exchange Commission, bringing that body to full staff for the first time since 2015. Peirce and Jackson were confirmed by the Senate Banking Committee on Nov. 1.

Peirce, a Republican, is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and the director of Mercatus’ Financial Markets Working Group. Previously, she served on the staff of the Senate Banking Committee under Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL), at the SEC for eight years as a staff attorney and counsel to Commissioner Paul Atkins, and as an associate at a Washington, D.C. law firm. Jackson, a Democrat, is a law professor and director of the Program on Corporate Law and Policy at Columbia Law School, where he has focused on executive compensation and corporate governance matters. Prior to joining Columbia in 2010, Jackson served as a senior policy adviser in the Treasury Department’s Office of the Special Master for TARP Executive Compensation, and practiced law in the executive compensation department of a New York law firm.

In testimony during their nomination hearing before the Senate Banking Committee on October 14, both expressed support for SEC engagement in developing a fiduciary standard, though both indicated that there were more pressing priorities.

And while their approval does fill out the panel of SEC Commissioners, that might not last long; Democrat Kara Stein’s five-year term expires at the end this year, and Republican Michael Piwowar’s expires in 2018 (although SEC commissioners may continue to serve for up to 18 months after their terms expire if they are not replaced before then).

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  1. Julie Niles
    Posted December 27, 2017 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Related to Hester Peirce’s relationship to Mercatus and George Mason University: “In the mid-1980s, as called for in the first phase of Fink’s plan, the Kochs also began to establish an academic beachhead of their own. Their particular focus was on George Mason University…By 1981, Fink had moved his Austrian economics program there from Rutgers, eventually naming it the Mercatus Center. The think tank was entirely funded by outside donations, largely from the Kochs, but is was located in the midst of the public university’s campus, so it touted itself, somewhat misleadingly, as “the world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas–bridging the gap between academic ideas and real-world problems.” Financial records show that the Koch family foundations donated some $30 million to the school, much of it going to the Mercatus Center…This, however, raised questions about whether the Mercatus Center was in fact an independent intellectual center or an extension of the Koch’s lobbying operation.” Source: Dark Money, Jane Mayer, 2017, page 182.

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