Obama to Tap Former Federal Prosecutor Mary Jo White to Head SEC

former federal prosecutor Mary Jo White
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama will nominate former federal prosecutor Mary Jo White to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, a White House source said, restoring the agency's power to work on its overhaul of Wall Street.

White, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, would succeed current SEC Chairman Elisse Walter, who took over in December after predecessor Mary Schapiro stepped down. White's nomination will be announced later Thursday, the source said.

The president also plans to renominate Richard Cordray to continue as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the U.S. watchdog for consumer products such as mortgages and student loans, the source said.

A personnel announcement is expected at 2:30 p.m. EST, The White House said in a statement.

The SEC is implementing dozens of rules as part of the Dodd-Frank law that aims to prevent a repeat of the 2007-09 financial crisis. Many believed Schapiro's departure slowed down the process.

When she stepped down, the commission that sits atop the main U.S. securities regulator was left divided between two Democrats and two Republicans.

White, now a well known and respected white-collar defense attorney with the law firm Debevoise and Plimpton, was the only woman in the 200-year history of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York to serve in the top spot there. She was in office from 1993 through to 2002.

Obama appointed Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general, when Congress was in recess, after Republicans wary of the CFPB's independence blocked his nomination.

The controversial appointment generated the need for Cordray to be renominated sooner than normal.

The CFPB has drawn criticism from Republicans and business groups, who say it is virtually unchecked and will hurt lending and put small banks out of business.

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