The SEC Chairwoman prepares to wield the power of compromise
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Since taking over the Securities and Exchange Commission last April, Mary Jo White has given both fans of regulation and free-market types something to complain about. She has changed SEC rules to require crooked financial actors to admit guilt rather than just pay fines. She has stepped up investigations of so-called gatekeepers—the board members, lawyers and accountants who sometimes shield companies by failing to flag fraud. The SEC recently announced the latest of nearly 700 busts since White took over and warned big banks they’d be punished if they suppressed whistle-blowers. By expanding her agency’s focus, White is putting cops back on beats they haven’t closely patrolled in recent years—a “be everywhere” approach to enforcement, she calls it.
But she has also lifted barriers on businesses, to the dismay of some liberals. White has told fellow members of the commission that in coming months she may, for the first time, vote with its two Republicans against its two Democrats on several important new rules, sources familiar with the discussions tell Time. Her willingness to work both sides of the aisle suggests that the former prosecutor is a cannier politician than was widely expected.