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SEC Commissioner Piwowar, a Republican, to step down

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Republican member of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Michael Piwowar, said on Monday that he will step down on July 7, or when his successor is sworn in, whichever comes first.

FILE PHOTO: Michael Piwowar, Commissioner, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, speaks at the Milken Institute 21st Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S. April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Piwowar announced his decision in a letter to President Donald Trump, a copy of which the SEC published on its website.

If Piwowar leaves before a successor is sworn in, the SEC could be deadlocked because it will be left with two Republican and two Democratic commissioners, which could make it difficult for the agency’s Republican chairman, Jay Clayton, to move his agenda.

It will be up to Trump, who named Clayton to head the SEC, to nominate a commissioner to replace Piwowar, subject to Senate confirmation.

Piwowar’s term is due to end in June, but under SEC rules a commissioner can stay in office for up to 18 months beyond the scheduled term end if a successor has not already been appointed and sworn in.

Piwowar, who has faulted the SEC, the country’s top regulator of securities markets - including oversight of companies issuing securities and those selling and trading in securities - for being too bureaucratic, was appointed as a commissioner by President Barack Obama in 2013.

He served as the SEC’s acting chairman for five months in 2017. During that time, he sought to repeal a rule that requires companies to report the pay difference between the chief executive and the average employee.

As commissioner, Piwowar pushed to abolish rules that keep individual investors away from startups and other private companies. Known as “simple agreement for future equity” instruments, or SAFE deals, Piwowar argued that inexperienced investors had as much right to invest as the wealthy.

“We accomplished a great deal for the ‘forgotten investor’ in a short period of time,” Piwowar wrote in his letter to Trump informing him of his plans to leave the SEC.

Piwowar served as an economist on the Senate Banking Committee before his SEC appointment.

Reporting by Katanga Johnson; Editing by Leslie Adler