May 19, 2011 / 1:45 AM / 6 years ago

Obama nominates Gallagher as SEC commissioner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama plans to nominate Republican Daniel Gallagher and Democrat Luis Aguilar as commissioners at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the White House said on Wednesday.

In doing so, the Obama administration signaled it was looking for seasoned securities experts who will be well-equipped to handle the massive undertaking of implementing nearly 100 new rules under the Dodd-Frank Act.

Aguilar has served as a commissioner at the SEC since 2008. He has continued serving in that position even though his term expired last year.

Gallagher, meanwhile, is currently a partner in the securities department of the law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, but previously worked at the SEC in several different capacities from 2006 through 2010.

Both were at the SEC at the height of the financial crisis in 2008.

The SEC, Gallagher and Aguilar all declined immediate comment on the nominations late on Wednesday.

Both nominations are subject to approval by the U.S. Senate. If confirmed, Gallagher would replace Commissioner Kathleen Casey, whose term expires later this year.

Gallagher has worked in a number of different capacities at the SEC. He first served as a counsel to former Commissioner Paul Atkins and then worked under Chairman Chris Cox. Around the time the crisis hit, he served as deputy director of the SEC's division of trading and markets, and later worked as co-acting director of the division from April 2009 to January 2010.

That division is now in charge of writing key rules for the Dodd-Frank law, including regulations for the $600 trillion over-the-counter derivatives market and credit-rating agencies.

"His experience from working in a variety of roles at the SEC means that he understands the 'inside game' of how the process works," said Jim Overdahl, the former SEC Chief Economist who now works for NERA Economic Consulting. "I know that he has great respect for the SEC as an institution and is a student of its history."

On Wednesday evening, former colleagues who worked with Gallagher at the SEC said they were thrilled by Obama's decision to nominate him to the post.

Atkins described him as "upbeat" and someone who will bring a "positive force" to the commission. Bradley J. Bondi, a partner at Cadwalader who also worked as a counsel to Atkins, described Gallagher as "even tempered" with a "strong command of the federal securities laws."

He added that he thinks Gallagher will bring some of the same viewpoints to the commission that are shared by Casey, particularly in the area of cost benefit analysis for the Dodd-Frank rules.

This is an area that has been a weak spot for the SEC historically, and as recently as Wednesday Casey expressed her concern that the agency was not doing an adequate job. She has served as commissioner since 2006.

Aguilar, meanwhile, was first sworn in as a commissioner on July 31, 2008. Prior to joining the SEC, he was a partner with the international law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge, LLP and he also previously served as the general counsel of INVESCO.

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