Former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on Monday to serve as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
White, who has spent the last decade at law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and heads the firm's litigation department, could assume her post as early as Tuesday, sources said.
She will replace Elisse Walter, who has served as SEC chairman since Mary Schapiro left the commission last December. Walter is expected to remain an SEC commissioner through this year.
White has defended many Wall Street firms but has said that she would recuse herself from working on enforcement actions related to those former cases. She was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1993 to 2002.
White's confirmation earned praise from public policy and trade groups.
"We congratulate Mary Jo White on her confirmation by the U.S. Senate as a member of the Securities and Exchange Commission," said Investment Company Institute president and chief executive officer Paul Schott Stevens. "Her long experience and notable accomplishments as an advocate for the public interest will serve her well in her new role as SEC chair, carrying out the agency's vital missions of protecting investors and overseeing our capital markets. We look forward to working with her."
The Center for Audit Quality, an investor advocacy group, said White was an excellent choice.
"Chairman White has a sterling record of enforcing the law in our capital markets and fighting for investors' interests, said CAQ executive director Cindy Fornelli. "The CAQ vigorously supports her position that as chairman, the American public will be her client."
Senate Banking Committee chairman also praised White.
"The SEC needs a strong leader in place as it works to implement Wall Street Reform, and that is exactly what the commission is getting with Mary Jo White," he said. "After meeting her, listening to her testimony, and closely reviewing her qualifications, it came as no surprise that she received such overwhelming bipartisan support for her confirmation. I look forward to working with her as the SEC addresses a range of rules and policy issues that include the Volcker Rule, derivatives, credit rating agencies, hedge funds, standards for broker-dealers and investment advisers, corporate disclosures, market structure, and money market funds, to name just a few.
As chairman, White will also oversee some crucial developments to muni market regulation, notably the long-awaited municipal advisor definition.