Mary Jo White to SEC; Richard Cordray for "consumer czar"

The Associated Press reports on a pair of forthcoming assignments from President Obama:

President Barack Obama will nominate Mary Jo White to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission, tapping an attorney with broad experience in prosecuting white-collar crimes to lead an agency that has a central role in implementing Wall Street reform.

A White House official said the president would announce White’s nomination during a ceremony in the State Dining Room Thursday afternoon.

At the same event, Obama will renominate Richard Cordray to serve as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the official said. The president used a recess appointment last year to circumvent Congress and install Cordray as head of the bureau. That appointment expires at the end of this year.

Well, if we’ve got to have a “consumer czar” created by overweening Big Government, we might as well keep the administrator installed through abuse of executive power.  Students of the Cordray drama will recall that Obama didn’t merely “circumvent Congress”; he declared them out-of-session for a few hours on a single day, so he could install Cordray as a recess appointment.  The media reaction next time a Republican president does something like that should be fascinating.

As for White’s resume:

White spent nearly a decade as the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, building a reputation as a tough prosecutor with an expertise in pursuing white collar crimes and complex securities and financial fraud cases. White House officials say that experience makes her well positioned to implement Obama’s Wall Street reform legislation.

While serving as U.S. attorney, White also won convictions related to the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

As the AP goes on to observe, it’s something of a departure for a prosecutor to head up the SEC, rather than someone with a financial background, although she has done legal work for financial institutions in the past.  Her predecessor as permanent head of the SEC, Mary Schapiro, was criticized for going easy on Wall Street due to her own industry background, dispensing relatively small monetary penalties and leaving executive heads unharvested.  Schapiro resigned her position in December.