Mary Jo White Announces SEC Exit as Speculation Swirls Around Potential Successor

Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White will exit the agency in January after almost four years in the job, the the first major Obama appointee to step down since Donald Trump's surprise election last week.

White, who became the 31st chair of the SEC in April 2013, announced in a statement on Monday that she will leave her position when Obama hands over the Presidency next year. "My duty has been to ensure that the Commission implemented strong investor and market protections, and to establish an enduring foundation for future progress in the most critical areas - asset management regulation, equity market structure and disclosure effectiveness," she said. "Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the SEC's staff, we have accomplished both."

White's announcement marks the first of what are likely to be a number resignations to be handed in at the federal level in the weeks to come. White was expected to leave even if Hillary Clinton had prevailed.

As chair of the SEC, White, a former federal prosecutor and securities lawyer, brought more than 2,850 enforcement actions, more than in any other three-year period in the commission's history, and obtained judgments and orders totaling more than $13.4 billion in monetary sanctions, according to the SEC. The agency charged over 3,300 companies and 2,700 individuals during her tenure.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew called White a "tireless leader in the effort to ensure that our financial markets are safe, secure and fair to investors and the public alike" in a statement and complemented her on "having skillfully steered the commission to develop enhanced investor protection regulations so critical to maintaining the public's trust" in American financial markets.

"She has been an important partner to me within the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), making our financial markets more safe and transparent through the SEC's adoption of important money market funds structural reforms," he said. "Under Mary Jo's stewardship, the SEC has reduced risks to our financial stability and recognized that it must adapt to new trends in markets to provide effective oversight. I am thankful for her leadership and I wish her the best in her future endeavors."

Trump has yet to indicate who he will select as White's successor.

Paul Atkins, former SEC Republican commissioner and CEO of Patomak Global Partners, is part of Trump's transition team and is also considered a contender for the spot. Anthony Scaramucci, manager of hedge fund Skybridge Capital, is advising Trump's transition team as well.

Atkins did not immediately return request for comment on the matter. A Skybridge spokesperson declined to comment.

Whoever Trump selects is likely to have an anti-regulatory approach. The president-elect has indicated one of his orders of business will be to dismantle Dodd-Frank, the finance reform law passed in 2010 in response to the financial crisis of 2008.

A Trump spokeswoman did not return request for comment.

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