March 17, 2017
While news of tweets and the Republican health care proposal dominated headlines last week, the Senate Banking Committee announced a March 23 confirmation hearing for the Trump Administration's nominee for Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Jay Clayton. Mr. Clayton is an accomplished securities lawyer and his resume aligns with the template experience of past SEC Chairs, which suggests a smooth confirmation process. However, last week a coalition of progressive groups announced a campaign against Clayton, including a “six figure digital media buy,” and in addition, the Center for American Progress released a 12-page set of questions that it suggested Senators ask the nominee during his confirmation hearing. Further, Senate Banking Committee Member Sen. Cortez Masto (D-NV) sent Mr. Clayton a letter questioning the work Mr. Clayton did for Swedish telecom company TeliaSonera. The SEC Chair plays a pivotal role in setting the agency's agenda and directing the staff, and thus his confirmation is important. The Commission currently has just two of five confirmed members—Acting Chair Michael Piwowar (R) and Commissioner Cara Stein (D). Since Commission rules require a three-person quorum to take most major actions, the confirmation of Mr. Clayton is an important step precedent to further policy action, including potentially the reopening of the pay ratio rule. In anticipation of that step, Acting Chair Piwowar has requested comments by next week about compliance difficulties companies have had in implementing the pay ratio rule thus far. The Association's Center On Executive Compensation will file comments sharing company experiences.