SEC Chairman Jay Clayton announces intent to resign at end of year

While the outcome of the 2020 presidential race remains in dispute, there are sure to be some personnel changes across D.C. shortly after Inauguration Day in January.

One top official has apparently sought to avoid that uncertainty by announcing his early exit to be effective at the end of this year, as reported by Politico.

“Historic productivity”

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton had been appointed to the post in 2017 for a term that would have ended next June. The former top attorney at a powerful Wall Street law firm signaled his early exit this week, but CNBC noted that it is not all that unusual for SEC chairs to step down during a change in administrations.

Furthermore, Clayton had previously expressed a desire to return to his prior life in New York as opposed to remaining in the nation’s capital.

News of his impending departure from the SEC came in the form of a press release in which the commission praised his leadership during a period of “unprecedented challenges,” including the coronavirus pandemic and “historic productivity” regarding enforcement and rule-making during his truncated tenure.

“Working alongside the incredibly talented and driven women and men of the SEC has been the highlight of my career,” Clayton explained in his own statement. “I am proud of our collective efforts to advance each part of the SEC’s tripartite mission, always with an eye on the interests of our Main Street investors.”

He went on to assert that 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.”

“Support and freedom”

Clayton concluded by thanking President Donald Trump “for the opportunity and the support and freedom, to lead the women and men of the SEC.”

He also expressed gratitude for support from staffers at the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and “other fellow federal financial regulatory agencies.”

While he had earned some criticism from Democrats who wanted him to be tougher in enforcing Wall Street regulations, reports indicate he had actually been quite active in terms of the total rate of enforcement and funds recovered through fines and agreements.

After Clayton took office in May 2017, the commission took more than 2,750 enforcement actions, obtaining more than $14 billion in financial remedies — including a record $4.68 billion so far this year alone. Furthermore, SEC staff conducted more than 10,000 regulatory examinations, returned roughly $3.5 billion to harmed investors, and paid out about $565 million in compensation to whistleblowers.

Senior SEC Commissioner Allison Lee is likely to be named acting chair until a permanent replacement is determined.

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