Is the the right person for the job, or did President Obama select someone that effectively nerfed the ability to go after Wall Street?
White could have to abstain from votes on matters involving former clients at a time when the SEC has been struggling to regain investor confidence among regulators and financial markets.
Government ethics rules generally prevent commissioners from participating in matters in which they or their spouses have any financial stake, or have any interest that could raise questions about their impartiality, Kelner said.
These rules generally restrict commissioners from taking part in cases they worked on while in the private sector — whether to bring a securities fraud lawsuit against a former client, for example, Kelner said.
White could still be involved in other matters dealing with former clients, just as long as she hasn’t previously worked on the other side of particular cases before the SEC, Kelner said.
What could also complicate White’s tenure at the SEC is an ethics pledge Obama has required executive-branch appointees to sign since he took office.
Aiming to limit the effects of the “revolving door” between government officials and the private sectors they regulate, the ethics pledge precludes appointees from participating in any matter involving “specific parties that is directly and substantially related” to their “former employer or former clients.” Kelner said the pledge generally would not apply to broad regulations or policies.
The White House could grant White a waiver from the ethics pledge.