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From Securities Regulation Daily, June 3, 2014

Sharon Bowen confirmed as CFTC commissioner

By Lene Powell, J.D.

The Senate voted 48-46 to confirm Sharon Y. Bowen, a partner at Latham & Watkins, as CFTC commissioner. Bowen’s nomination was considered separately from the two remaining nominations for the CFTC: Treasury Department official Timothy Massad for chairman and GFI Group Executive Vice President J. Christopher Giancarlo for commissioner.

Background. Bowen joined Latham & Watkins in 1988, having previously been an associate at Davis & Polk LLP, and she became partner in 1991. Her practice focuses on corporations, private equity firms, financial and institutional clients in a variety of corporate, finance, and securities transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, private equity, strategic alliances, securities offerings, corporate restructurings, distressed debt and asset acquisitions, venture capital financings and corporate governance matters.

She currently serves as the Acting Chair of the Board of Directors of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) and has served on the boards of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Inc., the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Northwestern Law School, PENCIL, and UrbanAmerica, Inc. She received a B.A. from the University of Virginia, a J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law, and an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management.

Bowen was nominated by President Obama in December 2013, and the nomination was approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee in April. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) placed a hold on the nomination, criticizing Bowen for SIPC’s denial of the claim of victims of the Stanford Ponzi scheme. Vitter asked Bowen to respond in detail to a number of questions about the SIPC decision. Subsequently, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) joined Vitter in opposition to the nomination.

Stabenow endorsement. In the pre-cloture debate, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) strongly endorsed Bowen. She noted that Bowen was unanimously confirmed to be director of SIPC, and that the decision that Vitter disagreed with was unanimous decision of the SIPC board, as recommended by outside counsel. The matter is before the court of appeals, and the board has indicated that if the court rules that in favor of the Stanford victims, then SIPC will move forward and include them in their scope and reimburse them. Stabenow said she appreciated the concerns, but to lay them at Bowen’s feet was not fair, and Bowen was a “well-qualified” nominee.

CFTC Acting Chairman Mark Wetjen offered his congratulations, saying “Sharon brings both knowledge and experience that will serve the American public and the Commission well. I look forward to working with her as we continue to implement the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and address other issues that are critical to well-functioning and open markets.”

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