Menendez Votes No on Jay Clayton to be SEC Chair

Menendez Votes No on Jay Clayton to be SEC Chair

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, today voted against the nomination of Jay Clayton for Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.  After casting his vote during the Committee’s executive session, Sen. Menendez said he was seriously concerned that Mr. Clayton “will bend rules for companies and ignore the needs of hard-working Americans.”


Sen. Menendez said:

“Investors and the American public at-large deserve an SEC Chair who will fight to hold firms accountable, prosecute corporate misconduct and wrongdoing, and improve investor protections.  Mr. Clayton has not met that burden.  The 2008 financial crisis proved that we need a cop on the beat, not a regulator asleep at the switch.  There’s simply far too much at stake—like hard-earned retirement savings and college funds—for us to give away the keys to castle to one of Wall Street’s most fervent defenders.

“Mr. Clayton’s singular focus, seemingly to the exclusion of everything else, on the registration and disclosure burden on companies raises significant concerns about his commitment to investor protection.  Furthermore, Mr. Clayton’s extensive representation of Wall Street firms before, during, and after the crisis will undoubtedly lead to significant conflicts of interest, and while he was dismissive of this concern during his hearing, Mr. Clayton will be forced to recuse himself from numerous decisions that are, at their core, integral to the role of SEC Chair. 

“Perhaps most concerning of all, Mr. Clayton failed to provide basic assurances to implement congressionally-mandated rulemakings to improve investor protections and increase safeguards to protect Americans from the excesses of Wall Street greed.  Given Mr. Clayton’s inability and refusal to answer basic questions about such critical issues as the CEO-to-worker pay ratio rule, the disclosure of corporate political spending, ensuring retail investors receive advice that’s in their best interests, and restoring authority to the SEC’s enforcement division -- I can’t help but conclude that Mr. Clayton appears better suited to continue representing Wall Street than to working on behalf of the American people.

“Remarkably, in response to questions I asked about how he will strengthen SEC enforcement, Mr. Clayton said he is ‘mindful that even the commencement of an investigation can have significant adverse impacts’ on public companies.  And this, to me, is in essence what defines this nominee’s approach: Wall Street profits will always prevail over Main Street protections.   I am seriously concerned that with Mr. Clayton at its helm, the SEC will bend rules for companies and ignore the needs of hard-working Americans.  The American people deserve better, and that’s why I voted against Mr. Clayton’s nomination.” 

During Mr. Clayton’s nomination hearing last month, Menendez was deeply frustrated by his failure to answer questions regarding his commitment to enforcing provisions in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, including CEO-to-worker pay disclosure. After that hearing, Menendez tweeted: “Pres.Trump's nominee to police Wall Street basically said in his job interview: ‘I don't know what I'd do in this job.’”