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Commissioner Piwowar to Step Down; Key Departures at IM Division

In a letter to President Trump, SEC Commissioner Michael Piwowar announced he would resign effective July 7, 2018. Commissioner Piwowar, a Republican, has been in his post since 2013 and was acting chairman of the agency for five months after the 2016 presidential election. He has championed and targeted regulation, including the Conflict Minerals and Pay Ratio Disclosure rules and opposed certain aspects of the Dodd-Frank Act. He voiced strong opposition to the DOL Fiduciary Rule, memorably calling it a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad rule” and recently praised the SEC’s proposed conduct standards for investment advisers and broker dealers despite expressing some misgivings. Piwowar’s departure will leave the agency with four commissioners – increasing the possibility of deadlocked votes. Democrat Commissioner Kara Stein’s term has ended although she remains on the Commission. The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House and Senate could simultaneously nominate two commissioner candidates to replace Piwowar and Stein. Meanwhile, the Division of Investment Management will soon see two important departures.  Douglas Scheidt, an associate Director and the Chief Counsel in the Division, will retire at the end of September after leading the IM Division’s Chief Counsel’s Office for over 21 years and a total of 32 years at the Commission. According to an SEC statement Scheidt has “provided critical counsel and assistance on numerous SEC rulemakings, technical assistance to Congress on legislation, and has managed the Division’s international program and its dealings with foreign regulators.  He also directed the Division’s responses to the financial crisis and the late trading and market timing scandals.” Additionally, Diane C. Blizzard, most recently the Associate Director of Rulemaking for the IM Division, is planning to leave the agency at the end of May after 18 years of service. In the press release, Dalia Blass, director of the Division, said “Her legacy will be reflected not only in the initiatives that she has led, which include some of the Division’s most significant rules affecting the asset management industry and Main Street investors, but also in the remarkable team that she has developed and mentored.”  Blizzard most recently worked on the reporting modernization rules, as well as those governing liquidity risk programs for funds.