Obama names CFTC replacement

President Obama has nominated securities lawyer Sharon Bowen to join the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

If confirmed by the Senate, Bowen would fill a spot on the derivatives regulator being vacated by Bart Chilton, a Democrat who is scheduled to leave the five-member commission in the near future.


Her nomination is one of three the Senate will consider for the CFTC in 2014. Obama previously nominated Treasury Department official Timothy Massad, who made a name for himself overseeing the Wall Street bailout, to succeed Gary Gensler as CFTC head, and J. Christopher Giancarlo, who would fill one of the Republican slots on the commission.

The CFTC is one of the smallest financial regulators but it has broad power over commodities, derivatives and other complicated financial instruments.

Some financial reform advocates have worried that the agency’s tough demeanor could weaken after the departures of Gensler and Chilton, who have been outspoken proponents of muscular new rules. Gensler was credited with helping to lead the charge to institute a strong version of the Volcker Rule, which limits banks’ ability to engage in risky trading.

As a partner at Latham and Watkins, Bowen currently represents corporations and firms in a range of securities and asset cases.

Bowen is also currently the acting head of the board of directors for the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, which works to return customers’ money when a brokerage firm goes bust. The corporation was created by Congress to step in when firms fail. 

CFTC commissioners serve five-year terms.