SEC Commissioner Daniel Gallagher directed his speech at PLI’s 2014 SEC Speaks conference directly to the SEC staff in the form of an open letter that he read at the event. He praised the staff’s work both throughout the financial crisis as well as in the challenging post-crisis period. Noting the agency’s low scores in federal employee job satisfaction, he reflected on how the SEC got to that point and looked ahead on how the agency can improve.
Commissioner Gallagher reflected on the desire by policymakers, the media and other experts to blame someone for the financial crisis – with much blame landing on the shoulders of the SEC. However, he noted the lack of a real debate on the SEC’s true role in the crisis, which he attributed to two separate reasons – that in the wake of the Madoff fraud the agency was viewed as inept, and “that it was politically inconvenient to aggressively investigate and understand the actual causes of the financial crisis.”
Commissioner Gallagher shared harsh views on the Dodd-Frank Act, noting that it was completed prior to the release of findings by both the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He praised the staff’s work on Dodd-Frank mandates that “are political and – at best – irrelevant to the mission of the agency” that prevented work on other Commission initiatives. He expressed hope that the agency could get back to its “day job” and address more meaningful, investor-focused projects in 2014.