WASHINGTON — The Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday announced that LeeAnn Gaunt will lead its enforcement division's municipal securities and public pensions unit, replacing Elaine Greenberg, who left to join a law firm.

Gaunt has worked in the unit since its inception in 2010, and also served in the SEC's Boston Regional Office for 13 years.

She supervised the agency's first pay-to-play enforcement action for "in-kind" political campaign contributions when the SEC charged Goldman,  Sachs & Co. and its executive vice president for violations related to contributions to the then-state treasurer of Massachusetts in September 2012.

Gaunt's selection to lead the nationwide unit comes less than two months after Greenberg stepped down to join Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in Washington, D.C.

"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as chief of the municipal securities and public pensions unit," Gaunt said. "I look forward to working with the dedicated and talented professionals in the unit and advancing the SEC's investor protection efforts in this very important area of the nation's financial markets."

Gaunt also supervised a 2010 pay-to-play investigation involving Southwest Securities, which agreed to pay more than $450,000 to settle SEC charges that an executive improperly donated money to a candidate for office in Massachusetts. She has held a supervisory role for 10 years, according to an SEC release.

"In her 13 years with the SEC, LeeAnn has demonstrated tremendous judgment and leadership as a valued member of our enforcement team," said Andrew Ceresney, co-director of the SEC's division of enforcement. "We are delighted that she has agreed to lead the municipal securities and public pensions unit, which has amassed a strong record of enforcement actions and is an important focus for the division."

Paul Maco, a partner at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP in Washington, said he crossed swords with Gaunt and came away impressed.

"She is thoughtful, thorough, tough, and fair," Maco said. "Just the right qualities for the leader of this group."

Prior to joining the SEC, Gaunt was in private practice in Boston, first at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and later at Goodwin Procter LLP. She holds a bachelor's degree from Fairfield University and a law degree from the Northeastern University School of Law.

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