In a letter dated June 2, 2015, Senator Elizabeth Warren described several “promises” that Mary Jo White, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, had allegedly broken. Senator Warren focused on (1) the SEC’s failure to finalize Dodd-Frank rules requiring disclosure of the ratio of CEO pay to that of the median worker; (2) settlement of enforcement actions without requiring admissions of wrongdoing; (3) grants of waivers to well-known seasoned issuers (WKSIs) found to have violated securities laws; (4) Chair White’s recusals due to her prior employment and her husband’s continuing employment at Wall Street defense firms; (5) the lack of proposed rulemaking to address disclosure of corporate campaign spending; (6) the “watered down” Rule ABII governing disclosures for asset-backed securities; and (7) new rules for small business capital formation that preempt state consumer protection laws. In particular, Senator Warren highlighted statements that Chair White made in various personal meetings about the timeline to finalize CEO pay disclosure rules, and cited several statistics concerning admissions of wrongdoing, waivers to WKSIs, and recusals. For example, in 520 settlements, the SEC required admissions of guilt in only 19 cases, and 11 of those involved only factual admissions. Under Chair White, the SEC granted 20 of 38 waiver requests. Chair White reportedly has recused herself from nearly 50 investigations due to her prior employment and has recused herself from approximately 10 investigations due to her husband’s current employment. Senator Warren closed the letter with demands for detailed information concerning the CEO pay rule, settlements and admissions of guilt, waivers, recusals, and campaign finance disclosures.
A copy of the letter is available here.