SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson Jr. plans to step down from his post Feb. 14, leaving the agency's top panel with one Democratic representative amid a Republican-led deregulatory push across Washington.
On Jan. 16, Jackson, a political independent who was tapped to fill a Democratic post on the regulator's commission in 2017, said he is departing the agency to return to New York University where he works as a law professor. Jackson's departure has long been expected, given his term officially ending in mid-2019. SEC commissioners are allowed to stay on in their posts for up to 18 months after their terms end and before a successor is confirmed by the Senate.
"Serving on the Commission has been the privilege of my lifetime," Jackson said in a statement. "I will always be proud to have served alongside my fellow Commissioners, Chairman Clayton, and especially the Commission's Staff, who dedicate their careers to protecting ordinary investors — and give hardworking American families the chance to build a better future."
Throughout his more than two years at the SEC, Jackson has voted against several measures backed by other members of the agency's commission over concerns related to investor harm. Notably, Jackson was a staunch opponent to the SEC's newly revamped conflict-of-interest rules for the brokerage industry. He has also criticized a range of different Wall Street practices during his term, including the rise of corporate buybacks and forever shares.
Kara Stein, who worked as an SEC commissioner with Jackson up until she left the agency in early 2019, said in a statement that Jackson has been a "relentless advocate for making sure our modern markets remain the fairest and most efficient in the world."
Jackson's exit will make Allison Lee the only Democrat working on the regulator's commission.
The SEC is structured so that no more than three members of its commission can belong to the same political party. In addition to Jackson and Lee, the commission currently consists of Republicans Hester Peirce and Elad Roisman, as well as Chairman Jay Clayton, a political independent who was appointed to his position by President Donald Trump.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been working for months to find a successor who can fill Jackson's seat, once he departs.
Caroline Crenshaw, an SEC attorney who works on Jackson's staff, is reportedly the top pick among those Democrats. Her name was recently sent to the White House for further review ahead of a potential nomination by Trump, Reuters reported.