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From Securities Regulation Daily, April 8, 2013

Mary Jo White Unanimously Confirmed as SEC Chairman

By Matthew Garza, J.D.

The U.S. Senate today unanimously confirmed Mary Jo White as the new head of the SEC. The former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York will leave her position at Debevoise and Plimpton to replace Elisse Walter, who has served as Chairman since December 14, 2012. President Obama had nominated Ms. White to fill out Mary Schapiro's term and to serve a full, five-year term as Chairman of the SEC. The Senate's vote, however, only allows for White to fill out the remainder of Schapiro's term, which expires June 5, 2014.

Confirmation hearing. In her March 12 confirmation hearing, White outlined her priorities to the Senate Banking Committee, saying that her first priority would be to work with her fellow commissioners and SEC staff to finish rulemaking mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act and the JOBS Act. She noted that rulemaking will be informed by "rigorous economic analysis" to identify both benefits and costs associated with any new rules. White also said she intends to prioritize strengthening the SEC’s enforcement function, as well as enhancing the SEC’s understanding of high-speed, high-tech issues, including high frequency trading, complex trading algorithms, dark pools, and intricate order types.

At the confirmation hearing Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) voiced concern about the "revolving door" from public service to private firm practice and back to public service and asked for reassurance that the private firm culture which White is exiting both socially and professionally would allow her to perform her duties uncompromised. Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) also inquired about possible conflicts of interest regarding both her private sector work and the work of her husband, former SEC Corporation Finance Director John White, who is now in private practice. White assured the senators that she has been very scrupulous about potential conflict of interest issues. She said that while she will face recusals as SEC chair, they are not out of the ordinary either in scope or in comparison to other commissioners or past SEC chairs.

Industry reaction. Acting President and CEO Kenneth Bentsen of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) said:

"We congratulate Mary Jo White on becoming the next chair of the SEC. Ms. White begins to lead the Commission at a transformative time for the agency and capital markets. We look forward to working with Chairman White as she leads the agency forward in the Dodd-Frank rulemaking process and on a number of other market-related regulations that will improve investor protection and the effectiveness of our capital markets."

President and CEO of the Investment Company Institute Paul Schott Stevens issued the following statement:

"We congratulate Mary Jo White on her confirmation by the U.S. Senate as a member of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Her long experience and notable accomplishments as an advocate for the public interest will serve her well in her new role as SEC Chair, carrying out the agency’s vital missions of protecting investors and overseeing our capital markets. We look forward to working with her."

The Center for Audit Quality, a nonprofit group representing the public company auditing profession issued the following statement from Executive Director Cindy Fornelli:

"Mary Jo White is an excellent choice to serve as the Chairman of the SEC. A former U.S. Attorney, Chairman White has a sterling record of enforcing the law in our capital markets and fighting for investors’ interests. The CAQ vigorously supports her position that as Chairman, the American public will be her client."

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