New SEC nominee could become decisive vote on investment advice proposal

Trump administration taps Senate aide to fill departing commissioner Piwowar's seat

Jun 4, 2018 @ 2:13 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

A Senate aide who is poised to become the newest member of the Securities and Exchange Commission could cast a decisive vote on the agency's investment advice proposal.

Last Friday, the Trump administration nominated Elad Roisman, chief counsel of the Senate Banking Committee, to fill the seat of outgoing Republican member Michael Piwowar.

The panel chairman, Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, gave Mr. Roisman a strong endorsement.

If confirmed by the Senate for a five-year appointment, Mr. Roisman would join the agency while it is considering an investment advice reform package that is out for public comment until Aug. 7. Mr. Piwowar has indicated he will leave the commission by July 7.

The agency voted 4-1 on April 18 to release the proposal. But it's unclear how the vote on a final rule would turn out.

Democratic commissioner Kara Stein was the "no" vote, while the other Democrat on the panel, Robert Jackson Jr., said he voted only to advance the proposal to the public comment period and expressed several reservations.

On the Republican side, Mr. Piwowar was the most supportive, while the other Republican commissioner, Hester Peirce, cited several shortcomings.

Although a final vote on the proposal is many months away, Mr. Roisman will be stepping in at a crucial time when SEC chairman Jay Clayton will be searching for majority support.

"Those votes are not there now," said David Tittsworth, counsel at Ropes & Gray. "I don't know anything in the record that indicates that Elad Roisman would vote one way or the other on that proposal. Clayton probably needs his vote if you have a five-person commission."

In addition to his current job on Capitol Hill, Mr. Roisman was a counsel to former GOP SEC member Daniel Gallagher. That gives him both a legislative and regulatory perspective on the investment advice issue, according to Scott Kimpel, partner at Hunton Andrews Kurth.

"He's going to be well-positioned to keep the ball moving on it," said Mr. Kimpel, who was counsel to former Republican SEC member Troy Paredes. But "you can't just assume the GOP commissioner is going to vote in lock-step with chair Clayton."

Neil Simon, vice president of government relations at the Investment Adviser Association, said Mr. Roisman's background will give him insight into the intersection between the SEC and Congress.

"The learning curve is a bit more abbreviated," Mr. Simon said. "It means he's familiar with the commission and understands a Capitol Hill policy perspective."

If he's confirmed, Mr. Roisman would be the fourth recent SEC commissioner with a Capitol Hill background. Mr. Piwowar, Ms. Stein and Ms. Peirce all served on the Senate Banking Committee.

The panel may wait to advance Mr. Roisman's nomination until Senate Democrats select a replacement for Ms. Stein, whose term expired in June of last year. She can continue to serve until December.

Typically, the Senate moves SEC nominees as a Republican-Democrat tandem.

"There's not yet an indication about who the Democrat will be," Mr. Simon said.

A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., was not immediately available for comment.

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