Trump Taps Wall Street Legal Vet Clayton to Lead SEC
President-elect Donald Trump will nominate Jay Clayton to head the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). A partner with law firm Sullivan & Cromwell specializing in mergers and securities offerings, Clayton has advised on many major investment banking deals, including the record-breaking IPO of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba in 2014. He also worked on several deals during the height of the 2008 financial crisis, such as the liquidation sale of Lehman Brothers, the sale of Bear Stearns to JP Morgan Chase and the Treasury Dept.’s capital investment in Goldman Sachs, according to reports.
“Jay Clayton is a highly talented expert on many aspects of financial and regulatory law, and he will ensure our financial institutions can thrive and create jobs while playing by the rules at the same time,” Trump said in a statement announcing the pick. The president-elect also reinforced his plan to roll back many aspects of financial services regulation, including much of the Dodd-Frank Act, which he has blamed for stifling economic growth. “We need to undo many regulations which have stifled investment in American businesses, and restore oversight of the financial industry in a way that does not harm American workers,” Trump said in the statement.
If confirmed by the Senate, Clayton would replace Mary Jo White at the helm of the SEC. White, who has led the agency since April 2013, announced in November that she will step down as SEC chair at the end of President Obama’s term, which is up on Jan. 20. White’s tenure was marked by aggressive enforcement activity. During her first three years at the helm of the SEC, the agency brought more than 2,850 enforcement actions—more than any other three-year period in its history. The judgments and orders obtained as a result of those actions totaled more than $13.3 billion.
Trump’s selection of Clayton drew criticism from Democratic lawmakers and regulatory advocates including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), both of whom criticized the pick due to Clayton’s close relationship to Wall Street, including many firms he would oversee as head of the SEC.