Just three days before she’s set to leave the SEC, Chair Mary Jo White suggested that the independence of the agency is threatened.
In a wide-ranging speech before the Economic Club of New York Tuesday, White said the SEC “is more susceptible than ever to the erosion of its expertise and authority by the partisan tides.”
White said the SEC needs to be independent in order “to meet its broad range of critical responsibilities” and further “its critical mission … to protect investors and preserve U.S. capital markets as fair, orderly and efficient engines of economic growth.”
That independence, in turn, depends on “commissioners equipped and motivated to act expertly and with only our mission in mind” and others, including members of Congress willing “to offer an unwavering defense” of that independence, said White.
But she said recent “trends” are making it harder for the SEC to pursue its mission and “have even raised the question of whether or not the independence of the SEC can be preserved at all.”
The outgoing SEC chair went on to list some of those trends:
For one, “increasingly specific statutory mandates … lots of them,” which frustrate the SEC’s “ability to exercise its expert discretion effectively,” including “highly detailed requirements set forth in the Dodd-Frank and JOBS Acts.”
For another, congressional proposals to “remake the SEC’s rulemaking process.” Without naming the bill, White referred to the SEC Regulatory Accountability Act, H.R. 78, which the House passed last week and which would prohibit the SEC from adopting new rules if “a reasoned determination” of the intended benefits don’t justify the costs.