Ex-regulator: Dodd Frank 'a field day' for lawyers

Atkins, now chief executive of Patomak Global Partners, served for eight years as an SEC commissioner, leaving just before the economic crisis hit in 2008. Amid the fallout, Congress approved the massive financial reform bill, which calls for the drafting hundreds of new regulations.

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Misplaced priorities and ineffective leadership have sullied the process, he said.

Atkins cast blame at former SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro, whom he said mishandled relationships with her fellow regulators and took advantage of a Democratic majority to push rules through the commission on 3-2 votes.

The result has been regulations that cannot withstand legal challenges, he said, pointing to recent federal court rulings that have delayed or altogether blocked rules.

Atkins expressed optimism that Schapiro’s successor, Mary Jo White, would seek to build consensus among all the commissioners. He urged White to drop consideration of a controversial proposal to require publicly traded firms to disclose their campaign giving to shareholders.

The SEC has received roughly half a million public comments on the issue, with the overwhelming majority in favor of the proposal. But Atkins joined critics, who call it an overtly political proposal and outside the SEC’s jurisdiction and area of expertise.

Those behind the push want to “name and shame” companies in an effort to force them to abandon their freedom of speech rights.

Atkins also criticized the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s recent proposal to designate certain non-bank companies as “systemically important,” a label he said would give them a competitive advantage over smaller institutions.

While the Systemically Important Financial Institutions would face greater oversight, they would also enjoy favorable treatment from the government, he argued.

“Over time this designation will take on more meaning and taxpayers will be left holding the bag,” Atkins said.