Wall St. attorney Clayton gets Senate panel OK as SEC head

AP News
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Posted: Apr 04, 2017 11:04 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate panel has cleared the nomination of Jay Clayton, the Wall Street attorney chosen by President Donald Trump to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The vote was 15-8 Tuesday by the Senate Banking Committee, as three Democrats joined the panel's Republicans in approving Clayton. The confirmation of Clayton to head the independent agency that oversees Wall Street and the financial markets now goes to the full Senate, where approval is expected.

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, the committee's chairman, said Clayton's "extensive expertise and experience in our financial markets will be a benefit to the (SEC) and the American people."

At his hearing before the panel last month, Clayton pressed to assure the lawmakers that he'll show no favoritism, as his Wall Street connections came under scrutiny. At his hearing before the panel last month, Clayton pressed to assure the lawmakers that he'll show no favoritism and act only in the public interest, as his Wall Street connections came under scrutiny.

Clayton, a partner in the prominent law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, has done significant legal work for Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs and an array of other financial giants and corporations.

"While some have raised issues about his previous work creating conflicts, Mr. Clayton is not new in this regard, nor will he be any less vigilant to ensure that he acts appropriately and ethically," Crapo said.

But Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the panel's senior Democrat, said Clayton's "deep ties to Wall Street will leave him hopelessly conflicted in the SEC's most high-profile enforcement actions."

As SEC chairman, Clayton would be responsible for protecting investors from misconduct on Wall Street. He would oversee the enforcement of rules written by the SEC under the law that reshaped the regulation of banks and Wall Street after the 2008 financial crisis and the Great Recession. And he would take part in deciding on enforcement actions that SEC attorneys bring against corporations and financial firms.

In line with Trump's pledge to ease many rules that flowed from the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulatory law, a Clayton-led SEC would be expected to take a comparatively loose approach to regulation.