The Trump administration said Friday that it has nominated Preston Rutledge as head of the Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, filling the spot held by Phyllis Borzi, the architect of the fiduciary rule, during the Obama administration.
If confirmed, Rutledge will be instrumental in shepherding through any change that Labor makes to its fiduciary rule. He currently serves as senior tax and benefits counsel for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
On the committee, his duties include employee benefits, retirement issues, tax-exempt organizations, health tax issues, and the tax provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
Prior to joining the Finance Committee, Rutledge served as a senior tax law specialist on the headquarters staff of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division of the Internal Revenue Service, and as a senior technical reviewer in the Qualified Pension Plans branch of the IRS Office of Chief Counsel.
Rutledge has been in private law practice as an employee benefits counselor and ERISA litigator.
Hatch said in a Friday statement that “for the past six and a half years, Preston has been a trusted and loyal advisor working to develop smart solutions to address a variety of challenges within our pension and tax systems.”
Rutledge, Hatch continued, has ”put forward innovative ideas to effectively tackle our nation’s pension issues and worked to update the tax code to help ensure more Americans are financially equipped to pay for their healthcare or save for retirement. Even more, Preston understands the importance of working across to aisle to advance policies,” adding that he looks forward “to working with my colleagues to ensure his fair and swift confirmation.”
Rutledge earned a B.S. in business, cum laude, from the University of Idaho; a J.D. with high honors from the George Washington University School of Law, and an L.L.M. – taxation, with distinction, including a certificate in employee benefits law, from the Georgetown University Law Center.
Industry officials anticipate that Labor will officially delay the fiduciary rule’s Jan. 1, 2018, effective date by the end of October.
Rutledge’s nomination comes a day after Rep. Ann Wagner’s bill to repeal the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule, the Protecting Advice for Small Savers Act of 2017, H.R. 3857, passed out of the House Financial Services Committee.
The bill, which passed by a vote of 34-26, now goes to the House.
Wagner’s PASS Act establishes a best-interest standard for broker-dealers, and as she said recently, repeals Labor’s rule, “period. Full stop. And it gets the Department of Labor out of the broker-dealer space.”