There are, as you know, 100 U.S. Senators. None of them are in charge of the SEC, an independent agency. That has not stopped Sen. Elizabeth Warren, however, from her ongoing, intense and quite public criticism of SEC Chair Mary Jo White for basically not running the SEC in the precise manner that Sen. Warren says she would run it.
Sen. Warren's pointed criticism resurfaced again this week at a Senate Banking Committee general oversight hearing in which Chair White testified. This time, Warren's ire was directed at an SEC initiative designed to address investor “information overload,” i.e., “the phenomenon in which ever-increasing amounts of disclosure make it difficult for an investor to wade through the volume of information she receives.” Warren asserted that this initiative was intended to “mak[e] life easier for big companies and harder for investors” and was a waste of the agency's resources. Chair White strongly disagreed, stating that Warren was mischaracterizing the initiative.
Sen. Warren's public scolding of Chair White has been going on now for at least a year. In June 2015, Warren wrote a 13-page letter expressing her "disappointment" in Chair White's leadership of the Commission for a variety of actions and inactions that Warren disagreed with.
In April 2016, Warren doubled-down on her "letters of disappointment" approach, penning a new, three-page letter to Chair White related to SAC Capital founder Steve Cohen's ownership interest in a hedge fund, Stamford Harbor Capital. "I am writing today to express my concern and disappointment with the Securities and Exchange Commission's recent decision to approve the application of Stamford Harbor Capital, L.P., to register as a money manager for outside clients," she wrote.
Warren's April 2016 letter prompted me to observe here that
There are some basic certainties in life. Death. Taxes. The fact that "haters gonna hate." And to this list I think we can add that Sen. Elizabeth Warren will be "disappointed" in the SEC.
At this week's hearing, Sen. Warren tried to hang her "disappointment" on Chair White for a third time. This time, however, Chair White was ready to fight disappointment with disappointment. “A year ago, I called your leadership at the SEC extremely disappointing,” Warren said at the hearing. “Today, I am more disappointed than ever.” White immediately shot back, saying “I am disappointed in your disappointment.”
As Sen. Warren's jaw dropped in apparent surprise, White added that she "could not disagree more with your characterization of what we're trying to do to improve our disclosure requirement for investors to make it better.” Check out the exchange between Warren and White in this video beginning at the 8:07 mark, the "jaw-dropping" at the 8:20 mark, and the guy sitting right behind Chair White who seemed to really enjoy her "disappointed in your disappointment" response to Sen. Warren.