Regulator who sparred with Wall Street joins DLA Piper

Bart Chilton, a former regulator known for his blunt criticism of Wall Street, is joining the law and lobby shop DLA Piper.

Chilton stepped down from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) last month and will start work at DLA Piper on Tuesday, the firm said.

He will serve as a senior policy adviser in the global firm’s Washington office, reuniting with former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), whom he served under as a senior aide from 2001–2005. Daschle is also a senior policy adviser at the firm.

Chilton spent the nearly seven years as a commissioner at the CFTC, overseeing the enactment and implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. 

He was a vocal and strident critic of the financial industry while at the CFTC and frequently lamented its power over the regulatory process.

“The financial sector is so powerful that they will roll things back over time,” Chilton said, according to a Bloomberg article from December. “The Wall Street firms have tremendous influence, and they can impact policy to a greater degree than any one regulator or a small group of regulators can.”

He was known for his colorful public speeches, which often contained pop cultural or musical references, such as an entire discussion of the financial markets that included Bruce Springsteen song titles, or describing Wall Street's perceived excesses by quoting lyrics from country singer Toby Keith's song "Red Solo Cup."

Speaking about new derivates rules during a speech last February, Chilton said “the largest speculators on the planet are gripping position limits like Charlton Heston’s gun.”

“They’ve tried to kill them on Capitol Hill when the bill was considered. They tried to defund them. They tried to mute them through the rule-making process, and now they are trying to litigate them to death,” he said at the Arkansas State University Agribusiness Conference.

Before joining the CFTC, Chilton worked at the U.S. Farm Credit Administration and, in 2008, led President Obama's transition team for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Overall, Chilton logged 30 years in the public sector.

Jay Smith, the chairman of DLA Piper’s U.S. corporate and finance practice, said the Democratic regulator “will bring unmatched experience and insight” to the firm.

“With many of the key derivatives requirements now coming to fruition, Bart will be an invaluable resource for clients who will be subject to increased regulation over the next few years,” Smith said.

Chilton’s departure leaves one Democrat and one Republican at the CFTC, which is typically led by a bipartisan, five-member board. Obama’s nominated replacements are awaiting Senate confirmation.