Piwowar attacks SEC chairman at public meeting

New commissioner complains he was not given enough time to review a new rule

Sep 18, 2013 @ 3:52 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

It didn't take new Securities and Exchange Commission member Michael Piwowar long to make his presence felt.

Participating in his first open meeting Wednesday, Mr. Piwowar lambasted SEC Chairman Mary Jo White for not giving him enough time to review a rule that would require municipal advisers to register with the agency.

Mr. Piwowar's complaint was not related to the substance of the rule, which he voted to approve, but rather the process in which it came before the commission. He asked Ms. White, who sets the schedule, to postpone a vote on the reportedly 800-page rule one or two weeks to give him more time to digest it.

In unusually pointed remarks for the normally collegial SEC public meetings, Mr. Piwowar said that it had been 1,155 days since the Dodd-Frank measure, which contained the muni adviser provision, had been signed into law and 1,113 days since the SEC adopted a temporary rule.

“In this context, a seven- or 14-day delay would have had a de minimis impact on the rule's overall timeline and would have been an insignificant change to the commission's overall rule-making agenda,” Mr. Piwowar said. “Chair White, I hope that we can work together in the future to find ways to satisfy your personal desire to get stuff done and our shared obligation to get stuff done right.”

Ms. White said that she delayed consideration of the rule a couple weeks to allow Mr. Piwowar, a Republican, and another new commissioner, Democrat Kara Stein, to get acclimated to the agency. Mr. Piwowar and Ms. Stein were confirmed by the Senate in August.

Ms. White said she determined that the municipal adviser rule should not be further delayed.

“Believe me, I fully and personally understand that the workload here at the commission is very heavy,” Ms. White said in response to Mr. Piwowar. “But so is, obviously, the responsibility we all have. I recognize we demand a lot of the commissioners and a lot of the staff. I want to reiterate my appreciation to all of the commissioners — including, obviously, Commissioner Piwowar —and the staff for their incredibly hard work and dedication.”

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