SEC Chairman Clayton to Step Down at End of 2020

November 16, 2020 Updated: November 16, 2020

Jay Clayton, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), announced on Nov. 16 that he is going to step down at the end of this year, after serving for more than three and a half years.

Sworn in on May 4, 2017, Clayton will leave the agency as one of its longest-serving chairmen. Since he took office, the SEC has brought over 2,550 enforcement actions, obtained over $14 billion in financial remedies, and paid awards of approximately $565 million to whistleblowers.

On Oct. 22, the SEC announced an award of over $114 million to a whistleblower, a record since its first such award in 2012.

“Working alongside the incredibly talented and driven women and men of the SEC has been the highlight of my career,” Clayton said in a statement, “The U.S. capital markets ecosystem is the strongest and most nimble in the world, and thanks to the hard work of the diverse and inclusive SEC team, we have improved investor protections, promoted capital formation for small and larger businesses, and enabled our markets to function more transparently and efficiently.”

“I would like to thank President Trump for the opportunity, and the support and freedom, to lead the women and men of the SEC,” he added. Clayton also thanked Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin, leaders at the Federal Reserve, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and other federal financial regulatory agencies.

On June 19, Attorney General William Barr announced that Clayton was nominated by Trump to be the next U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

The Southern District of New York is one of the most important district of the 94 in the United States, considering it encompasses Manhattan and the Bronx in New York City, along with Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, and Westchester counties.

Democrats criticized Trump’s nomination of Clayton, saying it was part of an attempt to protect himself from investigations into some of the president’s associates.

Clayton’s nomination process hasn’t started yet.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement in June that he would honor the committee policy of receiving so-called blue slips from the senators of a state where a federal judicial nominee resides. The Senate Judiciary Committee takes blue slips into consideration when deciding whether or not to recommend a nominee to the Senate to confirm.

With both Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) openly calling on Clayton to withdraw his nomination, Graham isn’t likely to get positive blue slips from them.