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Obama Nominates CFTC Chairman with Corporate Ties

Timothy Massad

Timothy Massad

Yesterday, President Obama nominated Timothy Massad, who currently works at the Treasury Department overseeing the government bailout, as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). If confirmed by the Senate, Massad will be replacing Gary Gensler to lead the Wall Street watchdog.

According to The New York Times, the high number of vacant positions at the CFTC means the stakes are high for Obama’s nomination. Massad’s confirmation, though, is not guaranteed.  

From the New York Times:

It is not a given that Mr. Massad — and Mr. Obama’s choice to succeed [CFTC Commissioner Jill Sommers], J. Christopher Giancarlo — will win Senate approval. While Mr. Massad is expected to benefit from already having received Senate confirmation in 2011 for his Treasury job, the partisan environment on Capitol Hill could derail the nominees.

And some consumer advocates are skeptical of Mr. Massad, a former corporate lawyer who worked for more than two decades at Cravath, Swaine & Moore.

“We need a chairman who will prioritize the needs of Main Street over Wall Street,” Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group said in a statement.

Gensler also entered the CFTC through the revolving door, but has proven to be extremely tough on Wall Street.

Furthermore, the other Obama nominee, Giancarlo, has professional experience that suggests potential conflicts of interests. According to Bloomberg, he is an executive at GFI Group Inc., a firm overseen by the agency, and has represented GFI during CFTC discussions of Dodd-Frank regulations and other trading issues.

The high number of vacancies is not the only issue concerning the CFTC. Recently, the Project On Government Oversight reported agency officials were concerned about budget constraints making it increasingly difficult for the agency to do its job. In a speech, Gensler said the agency may have to delay or skip investigations due to lack of resources.

Image from the Dept. of the Treasury.

By: Avery Kleinman
Beth Daley Impact Fellow, POGO

Avery Kleinman Avery Kleinman is the Beth Daley Impact Fellow for the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: Financial Sector

Related Content: Bailout, Conflicts of Interest, Financial Oversight

Authors: Avery Kleinman

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