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Senate Banking Votes to Advance Clayton to SEC Chair Post

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The Senate Banking Committee voted 15-8 Tuesday to confirm Wall Street attorney Jay Clayton to serve as the next chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, chairman of the committee, stated at the hearing that Clayton “is eminently qualified” to serve as SEC chairman, noting his “extensive expertise and experience in our financial markets will be a benefit to the Commission and the American people.”

Crapo noted that Clayton’s comments during his March 23 nomination regarding the “need to make our capital markets more attractive, which would rejuvenate their ability to invest in the U.S. and grow and create jobs, [were] well-received.”

Crapo anticipated a full Senate vote to confirm Clayton by the end of April. Three Democrats voted in favor of Clayton’s nomination: Jon Tester of Montana, Mark Warner of Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

While some have “raised issues” about Clayton’s previous work representing Wall Street firms “creating conflicts, Mr. Clayton is not new in this regard, nor will he be any less vigilant to ensure that he acts appropriately and ethically,” Crapo said.

But the top Democrat on the committee, Sherrod Brown, noted that while Clayton has experience as a corporate lawyer, “his deep ties to Wall Street will leave him hopelessly conflicted in the SEC’s most high-profile” enforcement actions.

“In an administration already rife with conflicts, Mr. Clayton in particular will face conflicts in cases involving the biggest banks on Wall Street, if not the world, that he used to represent. Those conflicts mean he will be on the sidelines, unable to vote on some of the SEC’s most important cases,” Brown said.

Brown queried Clayton during his March 23 confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee about Trump’s stated promise to “do a big number” on Dodd-Frank, and asked him “what aspects of Dodd-Frank are you going to attack?”

While Clayton responded that he had no specific plans for an assault on the law, “I do believe it should be looked at, [the] rules that are in place, on whether they are achieving their objectives.”

Clayton added: “The question of whether Dodd-Frank has been effective is on the minds of the administration.”

— Check out Senate Panel Approves DOL Nominee by Narrow Vote on ThinkAdvisor.