Groups Urge Senate to Reject Trump SEC Nominee, Citing Conflicts of Interest

Jay Clayton, Wall Street’s Lawyer, Is Unfit to Protect American Public, American Economy


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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Our Revolution, Allied Progress, Take on Wall Street, Center for Popular Democracy, and Public Citizen today announced a concerted campaign to oppose Jay Clayton’s nomination to be Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, citing Clayton’s massive and unavoidable conflicts of interest and cozy relationship with Wall Street that raise grave doubts about his commitment to protecting investors. The groups also launched a website, ResistTheHostileTakeover.org, and began organizing grassroots activities to show their opposition to Clayton’s nomination. They say that with Clayton’s nomination, President Trump is putting Wall Street ahead of hard-working Americans in what amounts to a hostile takeover of our country’s future.

Trump nominated Jay Clayton to be SEC Chair in early January and has since named almost a dozen more former Wall Street executives to top positions in his administration. Clayton is a lawyer at Sullivan & Cromwell, Wall Street’s go-to law firm, and has advised clients such as Goldman Sachs, Barclays Capital, and Bear Stearns through the 2008 financial crisis, advising them on how best to take advantage of the federal bailout money, and at the same time avoid large settlement payments. Clayton’s wife is a top executive at Goldman Sachs.

The SEC is charged with protecting regular Americans from being taken advantage of by Wall Street. One in two American households invest through their pensions and 401ks and trust the SEC to protect those investments. Throughout the presidential campaign, Trump promised the voters that he would look out for regular Americans and keep Wall Street in check. With Clayton’s nomination, he has proven once again that those were merely empty campaign promises, and instead he is putting the economy back in the hands of the very people who caused and profited from the financial crisis.

Putting Jay Clayton in charge of the SEC is like letting the fox guard the henhouse,” said Jeff Weaver, president of Our Revolution, and Bernie Sanders’ former presidential campaign manager. “Expecting us to believe that Clayton, Wall Street’s lawyer, will adequately police some of the very banks he has represented is an insult to the American people’s intelligence. We refuse to stand by as this administration continues to rig the system against the working families of this country.”

The SEC plays a central role in safeguarding Americans’ economic security, including the money people invest to support their families. When the SEC fails, and Wall Street banks get away with whatever they want – as it did before the financial crisis – the rest of us pay a terrible price. We need a leader at the agency with a history of standing up to Wall Street, not someone like Jay Clayton who spent his whole career serving it,” said Jon Green, campaign manager of the Take on Wall Street campaign.

Wall Street and its unchecked recklessness caused the 2007-08 financial crisis that robbed millions of American families of their financial security, retirement savings, and homes,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress. “A man like Jay Clayton who has spent his entire career putting the interests of Wall Street ahead of hard-working Americans cannot be trusted to run an agency like the SEC that is charged with overseeing an enormous share of our economy equal to the net worth of nearly two-thirds of Americans.”

Clayton’s background is riddled with troubling conflicts of interests, and his nomination must not proceed until he has disclosed the full list of matters that might preclude his ability to vote or be an effective regulator at the SEC,” said Jordan Haedtler, campaign manager at the Center for Popular Democracy. “The SEC’s work is too important to be hamstrung by never-ending recusals and gridlock, as so many key commissions and agencies have in recent years.”

The government is supposed to work for the people,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. “But with Jay Clayton poised to be at the helm of the SEC, and a gaggle of other Wall Street executives in key positions at the White House, how can Trump and the Congressional Republicans honestly say that they have America’s best interests at heart?”

The groups plan actions around Clayton’s confirmation hearings, in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere.

To speak with Karl Frisch about Clayton’s nomination, please contact Mike Czin at 202-286-7654 or mczin@skdknick.com.

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Allied Progress is a nationwide, progressive advocacy organization that uses hard-hitting research and creative campaigns to hold Wall Street and powerful special interests accountable. Since launching in 2015, the organization has led high-profile campaigns on several issues including reforming the payday lending industry and exposing the those working to cripple the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

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