Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren continues to act as a moral conscience for President Obama. In the most recent case, she has forced the White House to reconsider its nomination of a conservative, pro-business candidate for the open Democratic seat on the Securities and Exchange Commission.
According to multiple Politico sources, Obama was planning to nominate corporate attorney Keir Gumbs to fill a Democratic seat on the SEC in June. However, a number of political activist groups associated with Senator Warren were incensed about Gumbs’ work history, including consulting with firms on how to avoid attention from shareholder activists.
The sources also noted that the White House has begun vetting new candidates without corporate baggage to fill the seat left by Democrat Luis Aguilar, who left at the end of June.
Elizabeth Warren leading the progressive charge
The current brouhaha over the open SEC seat is an example of how the progressive movement has coalesced around Elizabeth Warren, and how the movement is trying to vet candidates for financial regulatory jobs. For example, Antonio Weiss withdrew his name for a Treasury post after Warren and other progressives criticized his Wall Street career and connections. GIven the SEC is structurally divided along partisan lines, liberals want to make sure the two Democratic commissioners will support the progressive position on major issues such as shareholder activism to executive pay.
Senator Warren’s office declined to comment for this story. Both the White House and former SEC staffer Gumbs also chose to refrain from comment.
Political analysts point out this nomination battle is part of a campaign by liberal groups against the SEC. Elizabeth Warren wrote an indignant public letter to SEC Chair Mary Jo White in June, claiming she was lax with enforcement of financial regulations. A couple of weeks later, liberal political groups launched a new website, nomoremaryjos.com, and sent a letter to the White House berating Obama for aiding and abetting the revolving door between Wall Street and federal regulators.
More on Keir Gumbs
Keir Gumbs was employed at the SEC for six years where he worked for Commissioner Roel Campos and in the division of corporate finance. Of note, Gumbs would have been the first African-American SEC commissioner in over 10 years.
Several progressive activist groups have objected to Gumbs’ mainly corporate work history, as he represented the American Petroleum Institute before the SEC and has been involved with efforts to limit corporate campaign-spending disclosure.