Senate Dems call for investigation of acting SEC chairman

Senate Dems call for investigation of acting SEC chairman
© Getty Images

Four Senate Banking Committee Democrats on Wednesday called for the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) internal watchdog to investigate the agency’s acting chairman, Michael Piwowar.

In a letter to SEC inspector general Carl Hoecker, Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Regulation: Net neutrality supporters predict tough court battle | Watchdog to investigate EPA chief's meeting with industry group | Ex-Volkswagen exec gets 7 years for emissions cheating Overnight Tech: Net neutrality supporters predict tough court fight | Warren backs bid to block AT&T, Time Warner merger | NC county refuses to pay ransom to hackers Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE (Mass.), Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate ethics panel resumes Menendez probe after judge declares mistrial Judge declares mistrial in Menendez bribery case Menendez jury deadlocked, ordered to keep trying MORE (N.J.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe Hill's 12:30 Report Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Overnight Regulation: Feds push to clarify regs on bump stocks | Interior wants Trump to shrink two more monuments | Navajo Nation sues over monument rollback | FCC won't delay net neutrality vote | Senate panel approves bill easing Dodd-Frank rules MORE (Ohio) and Brian Schatz (Hawaii) wrote that they’re “concerned that [Piwowar's] actions may lack adequate justification, undermine the SEC's mission, exceed his authority as Acting Chairman, violate other procedural requirements, and could potentially prove to be a waste of the SEC staff's precious time and resources.”

Piwowar has taken unusually aggressive steps to reel in SEC rules panned by Republicans during his short tenure as acting chairman.

Acting chiefs usually serve as caretakers until they’re replaced by the president’s appointee, but Piwowar has directed the SEC to reconsider two Obama-era rules: one on conflict mineral trades, the other on how corporations report how much money executives make compared to their employees.

Piwowar also "impos[ed] fresh curbs on the agency's enforcement staff, scaling back their powers to initiate subpoenas and conduct investigations of alleged financial misdeeds,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Democrats claimed Piwowar’s actions are based on his political preferences, not the SEC’s mission, and could have been made without consulting his only co-commissioner, Democrat Kara Stein, or Jay Clayton, Trump’s pick to lead the agency.

“We ask that you conduct an investigation into each of these decisions to determine whether they are legally permissible and in keeping with the SEC's core mission,” the senators wrote.