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Senate Confirms Mary Jo White as New SEC Chairman

Joe Mont | April 8, 2013

The Securities and Exchange Commission officially has a new chairman. On Monday afternoon, the U.S. Senate confirmed Mary Jo White's nomination to head the Commission.

That vote, by unanimous consent, follows strong bipartisan support White received during a March 19 confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee. That committee voted favorably, 21-1, to advance White's nomination to the full Senate. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), was the sole vote against White at that hearing, questioning her status as a Wall Street insider, specifically time spent as a partner with the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton representing clients that included Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, UBS, General Electric, and Goldman Sachs board member Rajat Gupta.

“I don't question Mary Jo White's integrity or skill as an attorney,” Brown said at the time. “But I do question Washington's long-held bias towards Wall Street and its inability to find watchdogs outside of the very industry that they are meant to police. Mary Jo White will have plenty of opportunities to prove me wrong. I hope she will.”

White's work with that firm came after a notable career as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1993 to 2002. The only woman to ever hold that post, she oversaw a staff of more than 200 attorneys.

White's lengthy résumé contains numerous professional associations that were likely considered as part of the nomination process. She has served on the board of the Nasdaq exchange and on its executive, audit and policy committee and as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.