Jay Clayton: 3 things to know about Donald Trump's pick for SEC chair

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

President-elect Donald Trump announced Wednesday that Jay Clayton is his pick to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, the main regulatory body tasked with overseeing Wall Street.

"Jay Clayton is a highly talented expert on many aspects of financial and regulatory law," Trump said, later noting his proficiency for "playing by the rules at the same time." 

There's no doubt Clayton has a fair bit of experience on the corporate side, having worked on some of the biggest business deals of all time. 

Still, the pick has some watchdogs worried — particularly those that favor stronger regulations of Wall Street.

Here's what you need to know about Clayton.

He is a famous dealmaker.

It's not hard to find parallels between Clayton and his future boss: In addition to his regulatory background, Clayton has a great deal of experience raising capital; he actually worked on Alibaba's record-breaking initial price offering.

He also worked on the sale of the Atlanta Hawks, according to his corporate bio, in addition to advising a number of high net worth individuals on their investments.

Like many proposed cabinet officials, Clayton has strong ties to Goldman Sachs. 

While he is not a former employee — as is the case with Trump's picks for Treasury secretary and head of the National Economic Council — Clayton has represented Goldman Sachs while working as a corporate attorney at New York City's Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, according to his bio.

There's little doubt Clayton knows his stuff when it comes to regulation: He has just sat on the other team.

Clayton has frequently represented banks in face-offs with attorneys general seeking damages and advised them on appropriate settlements

He is widely expected to scale back regulations. 

It's likely that Clayton will preside over the scaling back of some of the post-crash regulations put in place in the wake of the financial crisis.

That's got some watchdogs worried: "We believe it's not the appropriate background for a top position policing Wall Street," Marcus Stanley, policy director for Americans for Financial Reform, told the Washington Post

In addition to his work on behalf of big banks, Clayton also helped negotiate a large bribery settlement on behalf of Italian oil conglomerate Eni.

As SEC chief, Clayton will be responsible for enforcing Wall Street regulations against some Trump's own creditors, including Deutsche Bank

Clayton wouldn't respond to an emailed request for comment, although a representative from Sullivan and Cromwell shared with Mic the following statement from firm chairman Joe Shenker:

"Jay is an outstanding person and lawyer with deep public market, transactional and regulatory experience," Shenker said. "Commitment to public service has always been a hallmark of our Firm, and Jay will be a great public servant."

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James Dennin

James is a staff writer covering money and millennials. Send your tips and your money problems to jdennin@mic.com.

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