Today, SEC Commissioner Elad Roisman informed President Biden that he intended to resign as commissioner by the end of January. A Republican appointee, he has served as a commissioner since 2018, and his term was not set to expire until 2023. In a statement, SEC Chair Gary Gensler acknowledged that they “didn’t always agree on policy matters,” but that he had “come to rely on his judgment and expertise,” and has “enjoyed a positive working relationship with him.”

Of course, we have no idea what motivated his resignation—maybe he got a great offer he couldn’t refuse—but he does seem to have become increasingly frustrated by the agenda of the SEC under the new Democratic majority, particularly the recent proposal to reverse some of the key provisions governing proxy voting advice that were adopted in July 2020, rules that Roisman had originally honchoed through the rulemaking process. He seemed disturbed by both the proposed “explicit attempt to peel back [investor] protections” and, in his view, the opaque and relatively abbreviated proposal process that could undo “nearly a decade’s worth of work.” (See this PubCo post.)  In June, he and Commissioner Hester Peirce commented that the SEC’s spring agenda “makes clear that the Chair’s recent directive to SEC staff to consider revisiting recent regulatory actions taken with respect to proxy voting advice businesses was not an isolated event, but just the opening salvo in an effort to reverse course on a series of recently completed rulemakings.” (See this PubCo post.) And in December, Roisman and Peirce offered similar comments on the fall agenda, expressing their “disappointment” with an agenda that failed “to include any items intended to facilitate capital formation and misses opportunities to foster fair, orderly, and efficient markets and further investor protection. Instead the agenda is brimming with plans to redo recently completed rules, add new regulatory obligations, and constrain investor choice.” In particular, the real thorn in their sides seemed to be that the agenda included a number of proposed rulemakings that would undo recent prior rulemakings, which the two commissioners characterized as “undermining precedent.” (See this PubCo post.)

Posted by Cydney Posner