If you’re gonna clamp down on Wall Street, it’s probably best that you choose someone who’s been doing it for years.
In 1993, Mary Jo White became the first woman to ever become a Manhattan attorney at the federal level. During her nine-year tenure in the Southern New York district, she went after New Wall Street, drug traffickers (she led the prosecution of John Gotti) and, most notably, those behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Even though, at this time, the federal government was busy deregulating the financial services industry, White had a key role in enforcing the law on complex securities – many of which would eventually come full circle in the 2008 crisis.
So, it makes sense why, yesterday, President Obama chose her to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission; a group whose job (or, at least, what they’re supposed to do) is making sure Wall Street plays by the rules. She’ll be taking the reigns over from interim head Elise Walter. And what’s most interesting about this selection is that it’s the first time a prosecutor will be in charge of the agency.
But that might have its downsides…
After Ms. White left her job as a U.S. attorney, she took a job at a law firm named Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. According to the firm’s website, the prosectors there “concentrate on internal investigations and defense of companies and individuals accused by the government of involvement in white collar corporate crime or Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and civil securities law violations, and on other major business litigation disputes and crises.” Fellow Voice scribe Jason Lewis even informed me that she once defended the former head of Bank of America.
So much for conflict of interest.
Regardless, if confirmed by the Senate, a New Yorker will be leading the task force on Wall Street regulation. She’ll be working alongside fellow New York AG Eric Schneiderman, the man in charge of the mortgage fraud unit, as well.
That’s the news we want to hear.