SEC's Walter may take similar path to ally Schapiro

Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:49pm EST
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By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - For the past four years, Elisse Walter stood out at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for her deep loyalty to SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro.

Now the veteran regulator and SEC commissioner - one of two Democrats on the SEC - is moving to the fore at the powerful agency, taking over the chairmanship after Schapiro steps down next month. The promotion is prompting regulatory watchers to talk about whether Walter will blaze her own path.

"She has been very loyal to Mary Schapiro, and there are times when I thought she prioritized her loyalty to Mary over sometimes even her own positions on an issue," said Barbara Roper, the director of investor protection for the Consumer Federation of America.

"It will be interesting to see what she is like when she comes out of Mary's shadow. Will it be more of the same? Or ... will her own style and views become more apparent?"

Walter's and Schapiro's strong working relationship has carried through their closely intertwined career paths to their nearly uniform agreement on controversial regulations.

The two women first worked together at the SEC, when Schapiro started there as a commissioner in 1988 and Walter worked as a deputy director in the Corporation Finance Division.

They later worked together at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority before returning to the SEC, where they served side by side.

With just one exception, Walter has publicly voted for all of the regulations championed by Schapiro - from the controversial "proxy access" rule later overturned by a U.S. appeals court to rules that force companies to disclose if their products contain certain African conflict minerals.   Continued...

Elisse Walter is pictured in this undated SEC handout photo. President Barack Obama designated Walter as chairman not as "acting" or "interim" chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, on November 26, 2012. REUTERS/SEC/Handout