SEC Chairman William Donaldson abruptly announced on June 1 that his last day on the job will be June 30. Industry observers have speculated since late last year that Donaldson would resign his post sometime in 2005, but no one anticipated such an early departure. On June 2, President Bush nominated Rep. Christopher Cox (R-CA) to replace Donaldson, calling the California congressman ” a champion of the free enterprise system in Congress.”
At a press conference at the SEC on June 1, Donaldson said his departure had nothing to do with disagreements among board members. A Republican, Donaldson has voted with the two Democratic board members, Roel Campos and Harvey Goldschmid–to enact two very contentious rules, the mutual fund independent director rule, and the hedge fund registration rule. The two Republican commissioners, Paul Atkins and Cynthia Glassman,opposed both rules.
In his resignation letter to President George Bush, Donaldson said that during his two and a half years as chairman, the SEC has been “the most productive since its founding in 1934.” But given “some of the issues” the SEC faces, he told members of the press, he believes it’s time to “drift off into the private sector.” Donaldson has faced increasing criticism from the White House and the business community over what they considered his heavy-handed regulatory style.