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SEC Chairman to Step Down After Tumultuous Term

Her term included cleaning up after the financial crisis


On Monday, Mary L. Schapiro announced that she would step down as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on December 14.

While the Obama administration says it will tap current SEC Commissioner Elisse B. Walter to replace the outgoing chairman, Schapiro’s departure means that the commission will be evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats — at least until another commissioner is approved — likely halting action on various politically-contested regulatory reform issues, the Los Angeles Times notes.

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Schapiro, the first woman to head the SEC, had led the commission since January 2009 and was widely expected to depart after the election. As chairman, she steered the SEC through the turbulence created by the financial crisis and federal bailouts.

In a sharply divided Washington, Schapiro often served as a lightning rod for Republican criticism of administration policies, particularly as she implemented reforms mandated under the Dodd-Frank Act. She also weathered the fallout from the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scandal, during which many SEC critics noted the agency’s failure to uncover his long-running fraud.

Former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt praised her work as chairman, but noted that given the economic and political circumstances of her tenure, Schapiro had “the worst luck” of any SEC commissioner.

Walter is not expected to lead a significant change in direction at the SEC.

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