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Fiduciary rule critic Piwowar to leave SEC

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SEC Commissioner Michael Piwowar plans to step down from his post on July 7, after serving nearly five years on the five-person commission, according to a statement posted on the SEC website.

Piwowar, a Republican, has been an outspoken critic of the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule.

"To me, that rule, it was about one thing and it was about enabling trial lawyers to increase profits,” Piwowar said last year while acting SEC chairman.
And although he voted with three other commissioners to move forward on a proposal to raise standards of conduct for brokers and advisors, he expressed misgivings that the rule, particularly its length at more than 1,000 pages.

The SEC is currently taking comments on that proposal.

Piwowar’s departure will leave the agency with four commissioners, which might deadlock votes if the SEC’s two Democrats oppose measures favored by Chairman Jay Clayton, a Trump administration appointee, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“It has been an honor to serve the American people at such a respected agency and work with such dedicated and talented staff,” Piwower wrote in a resignation letter to President Trump posted on the SEC’s website. In it, he expressed gratitude for having been appointed acting SEC chairman at the beginning of Trump’s administration, noting that “we accomplished a great deal for the ‘forgotten investor’ in a short period of time.”

An email to the SEC for additional comment was referred to the statement on the SEC’s website.

As acting SEC chairman, Piwowar “made waves” the Journal said when he called for abolishing rules that prevent most households and individuals from investing in startups and other private companies, arguing that these investment opportunities should not be reserved for ventures capitalists and millionaires.

Piwowar joined the SEC in 2013 from Capitol Hill, where he served as the chief Republican economist on the Senate Banking Committee. He also worked as a White House economist earlier in his career.

As a commissioner, Piwower used procedural tactics to block some votes on Dodd-Frank rules toward the end of the Obama administration, when due to other resignations, the agency has only three members, the Journal reported.

Piwowar’s term officially ends on June 5. He will resign his position on July 7 unless his successor is sworn in before then. He did not disclose what he plans to do after leaving the SEC in either the resignation letter or the accompanying statement on the SEC website.

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