WASHINGTON — Democrats are pushing President Trump to nominate as a Securities and Exchange Commission member Allison Lee, an experienced enforcement attorney who may be relatively short on municipal bond experience.
Media reports earlier this week indicated that Trump is considering Lee for the post because she was recommended by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Lee, a Democrat with more than 20 years of legal experience, would fill the slot vacated by her former boss, Commissioner Kara Stein.
Stein continues to serve on the commission after her term expired last year because commissioners are allowed to serve an additional 18 months beyond their terms' expiration dates until their replacements are confirmed by the Senate.
The Senate is in the process of considering Republican Elad Roisman to fill the seat vacated by Michael Piwowar, who left the SEC last month. His nomination has not moved past the Senate Banking Committee and that may be because Republican nominees are usually teamed up with Democratic ones so the SEC does not have a major majority on either political side.
The five-member commission must not have more than three commissioners that belong to the same political party. Besides Stein, the current commission also includes Democrat Robert Jackson and Republican Hester Peirce. Chairman Jay Clayton is officially an independent.
Lee, who received her law degree from the University of Denver, most recently worked as a consultant in that city and Washington, D.C., at Congress Park Consulting LLC, which no longer seems to be in business.
From 2013 to 2015 she was counsel to Stein at the SEC. Prior to that, she spent almost nine years as an SEC enforcement lawyer. She returned to the enforcement role following her time as Stein’s counsel, serving as a senior counsel in the SEC enforcement division's complex financial instruments unit, which handles cases involving complex financial products and practices involving sophisticated market participants.
Working out of the SEC’s Denver office, Lee was a primary investigator in a number of enforcement actions, including a 2016 action in which a California-based mortgage company and its executives agreed to pay $12.7 million to settle charges that they orchestrated a scheme to defraud investors in the sale of residential mortgage-backed securities.
Prior to joining the SEC, Lee worked at the law firm of Sherman & Howard in Denver. Before that, she spent a year as a law clerk to Judge Rebecca Love Kourlis, who formerly sat on the Colorado Supreme Court.
If nominated, Lee would then appear for questioning before the Senate Banking Committee, which could then recommend her to be confirmed by the full Senate.
If Roisman’s hearing last month is any indication, Lee may need to be prepared to answer questions about the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board from Sen. John Kennedy, R-La.
Roisman’s hearing was notable for Kennedy’s attack on the transparency of the MSRB. Kennedy complained that the board was a “club” and "incestuous" because its public members don't represent consumers and are often former dealers and bank officials. Roisman said he didn’t want to “pre-judge” the issue.
Lee did not respond to a request to be interviewed.