Policy

Warren Urges Obama to Replace SEC Chairwoman

Agency chief shows 'brazen conduct' on political disclosure, senator says

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants Mary Jo White removed from her current SEC post over her inaction on pressing for new disclosure rules. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren took her long-running feud with the chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission to a new level Friday, calling on President Barack Obama to remove Mary Jo White from the helm of the agency.

The Massachusetts Democrat said White's reluctance to press for new disclosure rules, including those that would compel public companies to reveal more about their political spending, was "undermining" the administration. Warren also called on Obama to pledge that he would veto any year-end spending measure that includes a block on such new rules.

Warren, in a letter to Obama,  called White's inaction "brazen conduct."

"I respectfully urge you to exercise your unilateral authority ... to immediately designate another SEC commissioner as chair," Warren wrote in the 12-page missive that read at times like a legal brief. "I do not make this request lightly."

[Democrats Hold Up SEC Nominations, Seek Campaign Spending Accountability]

Warren, who sits on the Senate Banking Committee with jurisdiction over the SEC, said the request to oust White came only after "years of fruitless efforts" to prod the agency to move on new disclosure rules, including one that would require corporations to disclose their payments to nonprofit organizations, such as trade associations, that engage in political activities.

Republicans in Congress put the brakes on that rule last December with a rider in a year-end spending bill, which Obama signed into law. The rider prohibited the SEC from finalizing the disclosure rule.

Democrats, including Warren and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, pressed to remove the rider from a stopgap spending measure that funds the government through Dec. 9. But the rider remained as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other Republicans oppose the disclosure rule.

[Elizabeth Warren Blasts SEC's Mary Jo White]

"Democrats will continue to fight to remove the rider when Congress considers the next government funding bill in December, and I urge you to make clear that you will veto any bill that includes it," she added in her letter to Obama. "But the rider is not the biggest barrier to making progress on this critical issue."

The biggest barrier, according to Warren, is White.

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