Donald Trump nominates Jay Clayton for chairman of the SEC

AP

Wall Street attorney Jay Clayton is President-elect Donald Trump's pick to head the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Clayton currently serves as a partner with the firm Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, and would succeed Mary Jo White as head of the regulatory agency.

White built a reputation for tough enforcement of rules preventing wayward behavior by banks.

As Bloomberg noted, Clayton "represented Goldman Sachs in connection with the $10 billion bailout it received in 2008 as part of the government's $700 billion rescue of banks during the financial crisis."

The official mission of the SEC is to "protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets and facilitate capital formation."

The Wall Street Journal wrote that Clayton, if confirmed, "would take over the SEC at a time when congressional Republicans are pressuring the agency to loosen fundraising rules for smaller public companies, lighten its oversight of private-equity firms, and repeal executive-compensation rules opposed by corporations."

Clayton represented Goldman Sachs during the 2008 bailout.Source: Richard Drew/AP
Clayton represented Goldman Sachs during the 2008 bailout.  Richard Drew/AP

That track record would fit in with Trump's promises to cut back on banking regulations instituted during the Obama administration, although the potential irony of appointing a Wall Street insider to chair the SEC didn't escape the notice of at least one former Hillary Clinton staffer:

In a statement Wednesday morning, Trump hailed Clayton as "a highly talented expert on many aspects of financial and regulatory law, and he will ensure our financial institutions can thrive and create jobs while playing by the rules at the same time."

He added, "We need to undo many regulations which have stifled investment in American businesses, and restore oversight of the financial industry in a way that does not harm American workers."

Clayton received a B.S. in engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1988, a B.A. in economics from the University of Cambridge in 1990 and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law in 1993.

Sign up for The Payoff — your weekly crash course on how to live your best financial life.