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Sen. Warren calls for Obama to oust SEC chair

"The only way to return the SEC to its intended purpose is to change its leadership"

In the eyes of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, the chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission has not done nearly enough to prevent the “flood” of money flowing from corporations into the election process and has repeatedly “undermined” the SEC’s mission to protect investors, and therefore needs to replaced immediately.

Warren sent a letter Friday to President Obama, calling on him to replace Mary Jo White as the chair of the SEC due to her “refusal” to develop a political spending disclosure rule and her efforts to permit publically traded companies to disclose less to investors and the public.

“Corporations are flooding our elections with millions of dollars in secret political contributions, drowning out the voices of working families. Yet two weeks ago, Republican leaders successfully forced a rider into must-pass legislation to fund our government that prohibited the Securities and Exchange Commission from issuing a final rule requiring public companies to disclose these political contributions,” Warren writes.

“Democrats will continue to fight to remove the rider when Congress considers the next government funding bill in December, and I urge you to make clear in advance that you will veto any bill that includes it,” Warren continues.

“But the rider is not the biggest barrier to making progress on this critical issue. For years, the Chair of the SEC, Mary Jo White, has refused to develop a political spending disclosure rule despite her clear authority to do so, and despite unprecedented and overwhelming investor and public support for such a rule,” Warren writes.

According to Warren, this “brazen conduct” is the most recent and prominent example of White “undermining” the Obama administration and “ignoring the SEC’s core mission” of investor protection.

Warren says that White has made it clear during her tenure that she feels that companies disclose too much publically and wants to allow them to disclose less than they do now.

“She has failed to complete disclosure mandates Congress enacted in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown, while simultaneously devoting the SEC's limited discretionary resources to a far-reaching, anti-disclosure initiative cooked up by big business lobbyists seeking to reduce the amount of information public companies must make available to their investors,” Warren writes of White.

“Enough is enough,” Warren continues. “To address your concerns on political spending disclosure, and to advance other priorities of your administration and investors, I respectfully urge you to exercise your unilateral authority…to immediately designate another SEC commissioner as Chair of the agency.”

Warren tells Obama that she understands that replacing White would be an “uncommon act,” but feel that it is necessary to make such a move now.

“For the last three years, [Chair White's anti-disclosure] views have undermined the SEC, your Administration's priorities, Congressional mandates, and the best interests of investors,” Warren write. “Under a new Chair, the agency can re-direct its limited discretionary resources away from actively undermining the interests of investors and back toward its core purposes.”

Warren tells Obama that White’s “unapologetic anti-disclosure posture” has allowed efforts to “weaken” federal disclosure requirements to move forward.

“I do not make this request lightly. I have tried both publicly and privately to persuade Chair White to direct the agency's resources toward pressing matters of compelling interest to investors and the public, and toward completing those rules that Congress has required it to implement,” Warren writes.

“But after years of fruitless efforts, it is clear that Chair White is set on her course,” Warren concludes. “The only way to return the SEC to its intended purpose is to change its leadership.”

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