SEC Chair White leaving at end of Obama administration

By MARCY GORDON

WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mary Jo White, will leave office at the end of the Obama administration, the agency said Monday.

White, a former federal prosecutor and private securities lawyer, was appointed by President Barack Obama in February 2013. Her term doesn't end until 2019.

President-elect Donald Trump is due to take office Jan. 20 and likely will name his own choice to head the market watchdog agency in the near future. His nominee could move to unwind restrictions on Wall Street banks and corporations. The Trump transition team has set as a goal to "dismantle" the Dodd-Frank reforms law enacted in response to the 2008 financial crisis.

Paul Atkins, a former SEC commissioner who is the team's point man for financial regulatory agencies, is an avowed opponent of regulating Wall Street.

White, an Independent, has had to forge consensus amid sometime robust opposition from the two Republicans on the five-member commission.

Republicans criticized her for what they saw as overreach by the agency that could stifle financial innovation and economic growth.

Some Democrats, meanwhile, accused her of not being tough enough on Wall Street and top executives who may have contributed to the crisis.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the liberal Democratic leader who is a fiery critic of Wall Street, last month called on Obama to replace White over the issue of requiring publicly traded corporations to more fully disclose their political spending.

Under questioning at a Senate hearing, White wouldn't commit to getting the commission to adopt such a rule. She cited a Republican amendment to a catch-all government spending bill that prohibits the SEC from doing so.

Warren and several other Democratic senators were angered by White's position and by waffling on the issue by two long-pending Obama nominees to fill vacancies on the SEC. They blocked the nominations of the two candidates, a Democrat and a Republican. As a result, the five-member SEC has been down two since December 2015. The positions will likely be filled by Trump nominees.

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