Obama elevates SEC commissioner to chair agency

Olivier Knox
November 26, 2012

President Barack Obama announced Monday he had picked Securities and Exchange Commissioner Elisse Walter to replace outgoing Chairman Mary Schapiro, who plans to step down in mid-December. Schapiro has helmed the agency since January 2009, winning confirmation with the economy shaken to its core by the global financial meltdown.

Walter is a former top official of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Wall Street's industry-funded watchdog. She does not need Senate confirmation to her new post.

The new SEC chairman will likely find herself in the thick of a fight over financial industry regulations known as Dodd-Frank. Some Obama aides have said the president hopes to improve aspects of the law, while Republicans insist they want to roll back many of its provisions. And big banks want a say in how the new rules are implemented. 

Obama praised Schapiro for her stewardship of the SEC during a critical time.

"When Mary agreed to serve nearly four years ago, she was fully aware of the difficulties facing the SEC and our economy as a whole," Obama said in a statement. "But she accepted the challenge, and today, the SEC is stronger and our financial system is safer and better able to serve the American people—thanks in large part to Mary's hard work."

"I'm confident that Elisse's years of experience will serve her well in her new position, and I'm grateful she has agreed to help lead the agency," the president said.