Risk & Compliance

Securities Lawyer Walter Joins SEC

A 17-year commission veteran and former FINRA executive, she will be one of two Democrats when five-member body is at full strength.
Marie LeoneJuly 10, 2008

Commissioner slots at the Securities and Exchange Commission are being filled — albeit slowly. On Wednesday, Democrat Elisse B. Walter was sworn in, just in time to participate in the regulator’s roundtable on fair value accounting. Walter, who joins commissioners Paul Atkins and Kathleen Casey, along with SEC Chairman Christopher Cox, was appointed by President Bush and confirmed by the Senate in June.

The Senate also confirmed Bush SEC nominees Luis Aguilar, a Democrat, and Republican Troy Paredes, although no dates have been set for their taking office, as they are winding up their affairs at their current positions. Walter and Aguilar — who is a securities attorney with McKenna Long & Aldridge in Atlanta — were originally recommended to President Bush by Senate majority leader Harry Reid. But confirmation of the commissioners have been held up by political wrangling between the President and the Congress over more than 200 political posts.

Paredes, a professor at the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, was tapped by the President to fill thd Republican slot at the SEC that will become vacant when Atkins makes his expected departure soon. Traditionally, the SEC leadership is made up of two Democrats, two Republicans, and a chairman chosen from the sitting president’s political party. Since January, the SEC has operated with only three of the usual five commissioners.

Walter, a securities lawyer, was previously senior vice president for regulatory policy at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the non-governmental regulator for securities firms doing business in the U.S. The Harvard Law School graduate, who majored in mathematics at Yale University, also spent 17 years at the SEC in the Office of the General Counsel and the Division of Corporate Finance. She eventually rose to the rank of associate general counsel and deputy director of the Division of Corporate Finance. She left the SEC in 1994.

In addition, Walter also served as general counsel at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, where she was responsible for litigation and drafting administrative decisions and rules.

While at FINRA, Walter headed up efforts to improve regulation in the sale of mutual funds and managed task forces that proposed significant rule and investor protection initiatives. She held the same position at the National Association of Securities Dealers before it merged with the New York Stock Exchange Member Regulation in 2007.