President Obama’s picks to be the two new Commissioners at the Securities and Exchange Commission voiced their support during their confirmation hearing Thursday for SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White’s recent announcement that she’d be changing the agency’s “neither admit nor deny” settlement policy by seeking admissions of guilt in some of the more egregious cases.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said at the Senate Banking Committee hearing—which also considered the nomination of Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., to be the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency and two other nominees—that requiring admission of guilt in some cases “is an important step” for the agency and “shows that SEC will show some backbone in certain cases.”
Warren then asked Kara Stein, an aide to Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., who was nominated to replace SEC Commissioner Elisse Walter, and Michael Piwowar, an economist on the Senate Banking Committee’s staff who was nominated to replace Troy Paredes, whether they supported White’s decision.
Piwowar replied that he agreed, as the SEC’s policy has been on “autopilot” for too long. “Enforcement should be on a case-by-case basis,” he said. Stein said she also agreed, echoing Piwowar’s sentiment that “nothing should be on autopilot.”
Both Piwowar and Stein’s nominations are expected to be approved.
As reported by Reuters, White said at the annual CFO Network event hosted in Washington on Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal that the SEC is “going to in certain cases be seeking admissions going forward. I think … public accountability in particular kinds of cases can be quite important, and if we don’t get them, then we litigate them.”