WASHINGTON President Barack Obama tapped Mary Jo White, a former U.S. attorney turned white-collar defense lawyer, to be the next chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Obama announced the nomination at the White House on Thursday afternoon. As part of the event, the White House also renominated Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a role he has held for the last year under a recess appointment.
In its choice of White and Cordray, the White House is sending a signal about the importance of holding Wall Street accountable for wrongdoing. Both are former prosecutors.
Regulatory chiefs are often market experts or academics. But White spent nearly a decade as the U.S. attorney in New York, the first woman named to this post. Among her prominent cases, she oversaw the prosecution of John Gotti, the mafia boss, as well as the people responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. She is now working the other side, defending Wall Street firms and executives as a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton.
As the attorney general of Ohio, Cordray made a name for himself suing Wall Street companies in the wake of the financial crisis. He undertook a series of prominent lawsuits against big names in the finance world, including Bank of America and American International Group.
The White House expects White, 65, and Cordray, 53, to draw on their prosecutorial backgrounds while carrying out a broad regulatory agenda under the Dodd-Frank Act. Congress enacted the law, which mandates a regulatory overhaul, in response to the 2008 financial crisis.
Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said White has "an incredibly impressive resume" and that her appointment along with the renomination of Cordray sends an important signal.
''The president believes that appointment and the renomination he's making today demonstrate the commitment he has to carrying out Wall Street reform, making sure we have the rules of the road that are necessary and that are being enforced in a way" to avoid a crisis like that of 2008, Carney said.
Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.