Jay Clayton, Trump’s pick to lead the SEC, has been cleared by ethics watchdogs, but progressives are plotting to derail his nomination.
Weeks before he was sworn in, President-elect Trump nominated Jay Clayton to be chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). A lawyer at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Clayton’s SEC role would involve policing banks and the financial industry.
“Jay Clayton is a highly talented expert on many aspects of financial and regulatory law, and he will ensure our financial institutions can thrive and create jobs while playing by the rules at the same time,” Trump said in a statement at the time.
Last week, Clayton was cleared by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, which examined his financial disclosure forms for any possible conflicts of interest.
After a clearance is issued, the paperwork is then typically reviewed by the White House and sent to the Senate. That sets the wheels in motion for the Senate Banking Committee to schedule a hearing.
Upon clearing committee, the full Senate must confirm Clayton’s nomination. That’s where a coalition of progressive groups are hoping they can derail Clayton’s nomination. They’re planning announce a formal campaign to oppose Clayton on Monday:
Besides the [six-figure] digital advertising campaign, the coalition has set up a website that describes Clayton as “Wall Street’s bailout attorney” and is planning a “national day of action” to highlight what it sees as his conflicts of interest in taking the SEC position.
The coalition includes Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Our Revolution, as well as Allied Progressives, Take on Wall Street, the Center for Popular Democracy, and Public Citizen.
But some are saying progressives’ opposition is misplaced:
Bill McLucas, a securities lawyer with WilmerHale who spent eight years as SEC enforcement chief, said in January that Clayton’s “reputation is he is incredibly smart, incredibly talented and with deep experience in corporate governance.” It would be “a mistake to think lawyers that have labored in this area are somehow tainted in their judgment,” McLucas said.
Clayton’s committee hearing has not yet been scheduled.
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