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NYU Students Beg Teacher to Stay at SEC as Wall Street Adversary

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 11/20/2019 Robert Schmidt and Ben Bain
a man wearing a suit and tie: Robert Jackson Jr., commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), left, speaks during a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. © Bloomberg Robert Jackson Jr., commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), left, speaks during a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019.

(Bloomberg) -- Growing speculation that Robert Jackson Jr. might step down from the Securities and Exchange Commission is sparking angst among Democrats, who worry that his departure would give the agency’s Republicans even more power to push a pro-Wall Street agenda.

Now a group of alumni and students at New York University School of Law, where Jackson is currently on leave, are weighing in as well –- and urging him not to rush back to his teaching gig. The effort includes an online petition with more than 100 signatories and a Facebook group called “NYU Law: Let SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson Serve His Country.”

To see the Facebook page urging Jackson to stay at the SEC, click here

“It’s extremely important that he stays to protect the people’s interest because the Republicans are protecting corporate interests,” said Leo Gertner, director of field services at the American Federation of Musicians Local 802 and a 2016 NYU Law graduate. “His teaching duties can wait.”

Jackson, whose SEC term expired in June, can legally stay in his seat through 2020 or until a successor is confirmed by the Senate. Though Jackson has been coy about his plans, he has said privately that he would likely be back teaching at NYU for the semester that begins in January, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named because the conversations were confidential.

While Jackson declined to discuss his plans, he said he’s “thrilled that so many students and young lawyers have reached out to support my public service.”

Whether he wants to stay or not, Jackson, 42, has been caught up in an internal Democratic battle over the slow pace of choosing nominees for the SEC and other financial watchdogs.

By custom, selecting regulators’ Democratic members falls on the Senate’s top Democrat when a Republican occupies the White House. But Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer hasn’t moved quickly to put up names, drawing the ire of progressive Democrats who want him to pick liberals who will resist President Donald Trump’s rollback of Wall Street regulation.

Jackson, a political independent, has opposed many of the SEC’s efforts to soften rules that were placed on banks and brokers after the 2008 financial crisis. Activists who want him to remain in Washington say that even though he’s not a swing vote on the five-member commission, Jackson can speak out and issue dissents that would lay down a record for a lawsuit or a future Democratic administration.

Progressives also say having both Democratic SEC seats filled makes it more likely the regulator will bring enforcement actions against Wall Street firms and other companies accused of malfeasance. They note that the agency’s chairman, Jay Clayton, another political independent appointed by Trump, has been willing to side with Democratic commissioners to approve some cases. If Jackson’s seat were vacant, they worry, the SEC’s Republicans would have the power to block penalties, including large fines, because a tie vote results in a stalemate.

Although the NYU group hasn’t heard from Jackson, they have received a positive response from the law school’s dean, Trevor Morrison. After Gertner e-mailed him the petition, Morrison wrote back to say that the school wasn’t demanding that Jackson leave the SEC.

“I can confirm that, although the NYU community is certainly excited for Commissioner Jackson to return to campus, we have placed no restrictions on his public service leave and continue to support the decisions he makes about his work in Washington,” Morrison wrote.

To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Schmidt in Washington at rschmidt5@bloomberg.net;Ben Bain in Washington at bbain2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jesse Westbrook at jwestbrook1@bloomberg.net, Gregory Mott

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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