Trump Administration’s Agenda Receives Boost as SEC Returns to Full Complement of Five Commissioners; SEC Chairman Cautions Against Reliance on Staff Views

September 25, 2018

On September 11, the SEC announced that Elad Roisman had been sworn into office as an SEC Commissioner by SEC Chairman Jay Clayton. According to reporting by The Wall Street Journal, Roisman, a Republican, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate by a vote of 85 to 14. Roisman succeeds Commissioner Michael Piwowar, who stepped down in July.

As noted by The Wall Street Journal, “The SEC has had a full complement of five members for only six months of Mr. Clayton’s tenure, which began in May 2017.” Because any new rules or regulations by the SEC must be approved by a majority of the sitting commissioners, Roisman’s appointment provides a boost to the Trump Administration’s agenda by establishing a 3 to 2 conservative majority. According to reporting by Bloomberg, the Republican advantage at the SEC could be enhanced by year end, as Democrat Kara Stein’s term as a commissioner expires in December, President Trump has yet to nominate her replacement and any temporary vacancy will result in a 3 to1 conservative supermajority.

Meanwhile, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton recently issued a statement reiterating that SEC staff views are nonbinding and create no enforceable legal rights or obligations. While acknowledging that “public engagement on staff statements and staff documents is important and will assist the Commission in developing rules and regulations that most effectively achieve the SEC’s mission,” Clayton stressed that “It is the Commission and only the Commission that adopts rules and regulations that have the force and effect of law.” 

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