SEC Chair Mary Jo White’s top aide is moving on, in yet another high level departure at the financial regulator. Lona Nallengara, an employee at the SEC since early in 2011 and White’s chief of staff, announced on Tuesday that he will resign as of June 30th.
Statement from Mary Jo White
“He [Nallengara] is a trusted adviser who brings strong leadership, incredible intellect and a tremendous work ethic that is beyond compare,” White said in a statement, noting the long hours he kept, responding to emails she sent late and during the weekend. “I am deeply grateful for all he has done for me and the agency.”
More on Nallengara
Sources say Nallengara often played the role of ambassador to the other SEC commissioners, working to make deals on regulations and policy changes, including the ever-thorny Volcker rule. He was also Mary Jo White’s deputy to the Financial Stability Oversight Council, the regulatory body created to prevent another financial crisis.
However, the SEC occasionally bogged down the commissioners were clearly divided along party lines. The two Democratic commissioners generally support stricter regulations and moving forward on enforcement cases, but the two Republican commissioners are much more willing to let firms slide, especially relatively small matters. This political dynamic forces Mary Jo White to try and bridge the political divide, and frequently forced Nallengara into the middle of a game of political hot potato.
Revolving door for Nallengara
Nallengara’s plans for the future are unknown. Analysts note that many SEC lawyers end up making an exit through revolving door, the frequently used passageway between government and private sector jobs.
Nallengara is just 44 years old, so retirement is not likely in the offing. Moreover, Nallenagara already has experience as a private attorney. Originally from Toronto, Nallengara worked at a Canadian law firm a few years back, and eventually became a partner at Shearman & Sterling in the Big Apple, where he specialized in corporate deal-making.