President Obama will announce two new federal appointments today that are designed to send a signal to the financial industry that they aren't getting a free pass from Washington anymore. Obama will nominate former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission, which would make her the first former prosecutor to head the SEC in its 79-year history.
White used to run the New York U.S. Attorney's office for the Justice Department (the first woman to do so), and despite a record of high-profile "hard crime" convictions—like mobster John Gotti and the 1993 World Trade Center bombers—she actually specialized in white collar crime. White was one of the attorneys who indicted Marc Rich on tax evasion, before he was infamously pardoned by Bill Clinton on his last day in office. She currently runs the litigation department at the high-powered law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton, which has put her on the same side of some Wall Street firms.
The President's other move is actually a re-nomination, but one that is likely to ruffle some more feathers in Congress. Obama is re-appointing Richard Cordray to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Cordray has already had the job for a year, but only because of a recess appointment made after the Senate blocked his official nomination. The Senate has never confirmed a permanent director of the CFPB. Corday is also a former prosecutor.