Obama names ex-prosecutor as new SEC chief

Jim Puzzanghera / Los Angeles Times /


Published Jan 25, 2013 at 04:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama nominated Mary Jo White to be the new head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, saying her track record as a hard-nosed prosecutor means she won’t be easily intimidated as Wall Street’s new top watchdog.

“You don’t want to mess with Mary Jo,” Obama said Thursday during a White House appearance with White.

Obama also announced the renomination of Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a position he has held since a controversial recess appointment last year.

Flanked by White and Cordray, Obama said they would play key roles in protecting “consumers and our financial system from the kinds of abuse that nearly brought the economy to its knees.”

“It’s not enough to change the law,” Obama said in touting the 2010 overhaul of financial regulations. “We also need cops on the beat to enforce the law.”

White would be the permanent replacement for Mary Schapiro, who resigned as SEC chairwoman in December. Obama temporarily elevated SEC Commissioner Elisse Walter to the agency’s top position.

White was the first woman to serve as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, a prestigious position that handles Wall Street cases and other high-profile prosecutions.

In that job from 1993 to 2002, she prosecuted accused white-collar criminals, insider traders, drug traffickers and terrorists, including those involved in the 1993 World Trade Center attack and the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.