* Mary Jo White to avoid matters involving her law firm,
* Will retire from partnership at Debevoise & Plimpton
By Aruna Viswanatha
WASHINGTON, Feb 8 President Barack Obama's
nominee to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission pledged
to stay away from any matters involving her old law firm or
former clients for one year, according to documents released on
Mary Jo White is currently a partner at the law firm
Debevoise & Plimpton, where she has represented high-profile
clients ranging from JPMorgan Chase, UBS and
former Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis, to NFL Properties,
Verizon Communications and General Electric.
"Upon confirmation, I will retire from the partnership ... I
also will not participate personally and substantially in any
particular matter involving specific partners in which Debevoise
& Plimpton LLP is a party or represents a party, unless I am
first authorized to participate," White wrote in an ethics
disclosure letter dated Feb. 5.
Her husband, John White, also agreed to convert his stake in
the partnership at the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore to a
fixed salary, in order to not specifically draw income from
matters dependent on SEC decisions.
White said she would not participate in matters in which
Cravath represented a party, and said her husband would not
communicate directly with the SEC on behalf of the firm or any
client in connection with rules proposed by the agency.
Since Obama announced her nomination last month, questions
have swirled about whether her extensive contacts in corporate
America might present conflict of interest problems.
But White also spent a decade leading the U.S. Attorney's
office in Manhattan, where she gained a sterling reputation for
taking on terrorists and mob bosses.
Even though White spent years in public service, the
documents detail the lucrative nature of moving to private
She listed her partnership share at $2,418,600, and
described investments in more than half a dozen funds valued at
between $1 million to $5 million, not counting those in her
White also said she is entitled to $42,500 per month from
Debevoise as a retired partner, but will instead take a lump sum
payment up front to cover the next four years.
She said she would forgo other perks provided by the firm,
including secretarial services, office space and a BlackBerry,
and would resign from several board positions, including with
Columbia Law School, Citizens Crime Commission of New York, and
the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
She also owns 40 acres of farmland in Pocahontas County,
Iowa, according to her disclosure.