WASHINGTON — Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White should be demoted as head of the agency because of her lack of support for a rule that would require companies to publicly disclose their political spending, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said Friday.
"For the last three years," White's anti-disclosure "views have undermined the SEC, your Administration's priorities, Congressional mandates, and the best interests of investors," Warren said in a letter to President Obama. "Under a new chair, the agency can re-direct its limited discretionary resources away from actively undermining the interests of investors and back toward its core purposes."
Obama has the authority to pick which one of the five SEC commissioners is chairman, but there are two vacancies on the board. If Obama were to promote one of the other commissioners as the new chair, he would have to choose between Kara Stein, a Democrat who has criticized the SEC for being too lenient on rule-breakers, and Michael Piwowar, a Republican.
After the Supreme Court's 2010 decision in the Citizens United case that allowed companies to freely make political contributions, White's predecessor, Mary Schapiro, said the SEC would write a rule requiring companies to disclose their political contributions.
Schapiro stepped down in 2012 and was succeeded by White, who Warren said has blocked the SEC from writing the rule.
"Chair White's refusal to move forward on a political spending disclosure rule serves the narrow interests of powerful executives who would prefer to hide their expenditures of company money to advance their own personal ideologies," Warren wrote.
White was appointed to a five-year term as chairman in 2013. Before becoming SEC chair, White was appointed by President Bill Clinton as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, a role she held from 1993 to 2002. The southern district of New York is viewed as a top post because its jurisdiction includes Manhattan and Wall Street.