(Adds comments from Senator Brown, Clayton, background)
By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON May 2 The U.S. Senate voted on
Tuesday to confirm attorney Jay Clayton to head the Securities
and Exchange Commission, the agency tasked with policing and
writing rules for Wall Street.
In a 61-37 vote, the Senate approved the nomination, with
some moderate Democrats joining their Republican colleagues in
supporting his confirmation.
Clayton could be officially sworn in as SEC chairman as soon
The White House still must complete some paperwork,
including an action by President Trump to formally designate him
as SEC chairman.
Clayton is a longtime partner at law firm Sullivan &
Cromwell who specializes in advising clients on public and
private mergers and acquisitions and capital-raising efforts.
Clayton worked on the initial public offering of Alibaba
Group Holding Company, and has also represented Goldman
Sachs, where his wife Gretchen works.
She is now expected to step down from her post, a move that
will make it easier for her husband to mitigate potential
conflicts of interest.
"I look forward to working closely with my fellow
Commissioners and the dedicated career staff at the SEC to serve
the American public and advance the SEC’s important mission,"
Clayton said in a statement.
Many current and former SEC staffers are optimistic about
Clayton's leadership, and Clayton is expected to focus some of
his efforts on looking for ways to ease regulatory burdens that
might hinder companies from raising capital.
But in the debate leading up to the Senate vote on Tuesday,
more progressive-leaning Democrats said they were concerned his
close ties to Wall Street will create too many conflicts and may
lead to weaker oversight.
"Mr. Clayton’s law firm and former clients will create a
steady stream of conflicts for him, forcing him to recuse
himself in cases involving former clients for two of the four
years he could serve as chair," said Ohio Democrat Sherrod
Brown, the ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee.
"He will be sitting on the sidelines of potential
enforcement actions against some of the biggest Wall Street
banks - Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, and
UBS," he added.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, editing by G Crosse and Dan