On Monday, Mary Jo White, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, announced that she will resign before president-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated.
As CNN reports, White’s decision to step down comes as a bit of a surprise: her term does not end until June 2019. She has not identified a reason for her resignation, but merely affirmed that it was a “tremendous honor” to serve as chair and that she is “very proud” of what they have achieved.
Over the course of her tenure as chair, White helmed efforts to eliminate insider trading and corruption. Together with the rest of the SEC, she sought to render companies more transparent as well as to reform money markets.
Going forward, White has emphasized that the SEC must maintain its independence in order to perform its tasks most effectively. But her resignation elicits serious questions as to how the agency will proceed. In October, Senator Elizabeth Warren called for White’s resignation, arguing that she had allowed too many businesses to buy their way into politics. And yet, White has spent the last four years dedicated to heightening regulations on Wall Street. Under her direction, the SEC implemented the Dodd-Frank rules and various other reforms.
Now Donald Trump will have the opportunity to nominate a new chair, and he will likely favor someone more simpatico with his preference for deregulation. He will certainly face fewer obstructions to eliminating the regulations White put in place.
Nominated by President Obama, White joined the SEC in April 2013. Even with her early departure, she is one of the agency’s longest serving chairs.