SEC chairman Jay Clayton is stepping down at the end of 2020, despite his term not expiring until June of next year. The changing of the guard will take place around the same time incoming President-elect Biden is set to be inaugurated.
Biden, who would have been poised to make changes at the agency anyway, has already hinted that Gary Gensler or Preet Bharara could be his first two choices to lead the SEC.
In a prepared statement, Clayton said: “The U.S. capital markets ecosystem is the strongest and most nimble in the world, and thanks to the hard work of the diverse and inclusive SEC team, we have improved investor protections, promoted capital formation for small and larger businesses, and enabled our markets to function more transparently and efficiently.”
As the New York Times noted, while Clayton was often criticized for not being tough enough, the SEC pursued 3,152 enforcement actions during Clayton’s tenure. This total eclipsed the number of actions brought with his predecessor, Mary Jo White, in office.
Clayton’s SEC also helped rollback regulation, according to the NYT, including:
Among Clayton’s highest profile targets while at the helm were both Elon Musk and Elizabeth Holmes. The former remains “at large” as CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, while the latter, who paid a $500,000 settlement to the agency, in now in the midst of dealing with criminal fraud charges.
Biden’s incoming team is likely to be far more strict than Trump’s outgoing team, as will be the case at many financial regulatory agencies. All we can say is we hope Biden’s team doesn’t have a short memory and remembers with clarity how often Elon Musk taunted the regulatory agency over the course of the last 24 months.
Godspeed, Jay. Enjoy the book tour.