Mary Schapiro announced today that she will step down December 14, 2012 as chairperson of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Her five-year term does not expire until January 2014, although it was widely speculated that she would resign after the election.
President Obama immediately announced that he is appointing existing SEC Commissioner Elisse Walter as chairperson. It is not clear whether Mr. Obama will make this appointment permanent. Ms. Walter has served on the SEC since July 2008.
The SEC is struggling to implement almost 100 Dodd-Frank rules, while also performing its normal enforcement and other market security responsibilities. The SEC is touting a record number of enforcement actions in fiscal year 2011. The agency nearly set another enforcement filing record in fiscal 2012.
Ms. Schapiro has also faced other challenges. This summer, she was unable to obtain a majority of the five SEC commissioners to propose reforms to money market funds. She also needed to defend the SEC against its failure to prevent or detect earlier the Madoff scandal. The SEC Inspector General report on the SEC’s role in the Madoff scandal was highly critical.