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Project on Government Oversight

Securities and Exchange Commission Revolving Door Database Methodology


The Post-Employment Statements: What Is Required of Former SEC Employees and What They Must Disclose

SEC regulation 17 C.F.R. § 200.735-8(b)(1) requires former employees to file statements with the SEC’s Office of the Secretary within two years of leaving the Commission if they are:

[e]mployed or retained as the representative of any person outside the Government in any matter in which it is contemplated that he or she will appear before the Commission, or communicate with the Commission or its employees.

These statements must be filed within ten days of the former employee being hired or retained to appear before the SEC on behalf of an outside party, and it must include:

  • a description of the contemplated representation;
  • a statement affirming that the former employee did not participate personally and substantially in or have official responsibility for the matter in which they now expect to appear before the Commission; and
  • the name of the employee’s former Division or Office at the SEC.


Obtaining the Statements through the Freedom of Information Act

POGO filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the SEC and obtained ten years of post-employment statements filed by SEC alumni between 2001 and 2010. The SEC provided POGO with 1,949 statements filed by 419 former SEC employees during this period. Many alumni filed multiple statements to account for more than one new client, multiple actions on behalf of one client, or both.

Most of the statements provided to POGO were heavily redacted. The SEC often redacted the name of the individual or company that was represented by the alumni, and the issues on which alumni expected to contact the Commission. The SEC’s FOIA response letter states that this information was withheld under: FOIA Exemption 4, “since the release would cause substantial competitive harm to the submitter”; Exemption 7(A), to “[protect] from disclosure records compiled for law enforcement purposes, the release of which could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement activities”; Exemptions 6 and 7(C), since “release could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy"; and Exemption 8, to "[protect] from disclosure records or information that relate to examination, operating, and condition reports, prepared by on or behalf of the Commission, in connection with its supervision and regulation of financial institutions."

Whenever information was redacted, POGO indicated in the database which FOIA Exemption was used to justify the redaction. In cases where no information was provided, these records are marked with “N/A.” In cases where there were non-official markings that obscured the information, POGO either determined what was behind the markings by reviewing similar records, or marked the information as “Illegible” in the database.

In a few statements, the SEC also redacted the names and titles of the former employees under Exemption 6. When asked why the Commission chose to redact this information in only a few statements, an SEC spokesperson told POGO that “[s]ome former SEC employees requested confidentiality pursuant to agency procedures. We redacted to protect their names, titles, work telephone numbers and work email addresses. Where all that information was released, confidentiality was not requested. The procedures are laid out in 17 CFR 200.83,” an SEC regulation that provides a “procedure by which persons submitting information in any form to the Commission can request that the information not be disclosed pursuant to a request under the Freedom of Information Act.”

Standardizing Information from the Statements and Structuring the Data

POGO staff members combed through the statements and identified which information was typically disclosed. POGO staff then went through each statement and entered the information into a database, organizing it by information type such as employee name, former division or office, former title, new employer, represented entity, issue, date of resignation, and date of statement.

For the purpose of creating a searchable, sortable database, certain information was standardized.

Employee Name
Some alumni did not spell their names consistently. POGO tried to standardize the spelling and to provide middle initials wherever possible.

Former Division/Office
POGO standardized the names of former SEC divisions/offices where alumni said they used to work. (For instance, the “Division of Enforcement” and “Enforcement Division” are counted as the same division.)

Many SEC employees work at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, DC. Others are located at one of the SEC’s 11 regional offices. POGO’s database lists only the functional division or office in which SEC alumni used to work, regardless of where they were located. For instance, one alumnus might have worked for the Enforcement Division in the agency’s Washington, DC, headquarters, while another might have worked for the Enforcement Division in the agency’s New York office. Both alumni would simply be listed under the Enforcement Division in POGO’s database.

In some disclosure statements, alumni said where they used to work, but did not identify a functional division or office. For instance, Kit Addleman only disclosed that she was a regional director of the SEC’s Atlanta office. As a regional director, she apparently oversaw multiple functions, according to a bio posted on the website of the law firm where she currently works. In POGO’s database, her former division/office is marked simply as “Regional Office.”

If an alumnus worked in several different divisions or offices during her time at the agency, POGO recorded the division/office where she was most recently employed.

Former Title
There were some inconsistencies in the spelling of former SEC titles (e.g., “attorney-adviser” and “attorney-advisor”). POGO standardized this information wherever possible.

New Employer
Some of the firms that hired SEC alumni have gone through mergers or acquisitions. Other firms are different subsidiaries of the same corporate parent. Wherever possible, POGO tried to record the latest name of the firm (e.g., the law firm of “Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering” is recorded under its current, post-merger name, “Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr”), or the name of the corporate parent (e.g., “Deutsche Bank Securities” is recorded under the name of its corporate parent, “Deutsche Bank AG”).

Date of Resignation
POGO tried to record the exact day on which the SEC alumni left the agency, but some alumni only provided a month and year. In these cases, POGO recorded their resignation date as the first of the month, in order to conservatively estimate how much time elapsed before these alumni filed their first post-employment disclosure statement.

Date of Statement
In some cases, the date of the disclosure statement is obscured by non-FOIA markings, or does not match up with other information in the statement (e.g., the date of the statement is earlier than the date of resignation). In these cases, POGO relied on the SEC stamp indicating the date on which the agency received the statement.

Building a Front-End Portal for the Database

POGO contracted with Firefly Partners to build a front-end portal for the database to allow the public to navigate the information obtained by POGO in a user-friendly way. Each entry in POGO’s database represents one statement filed by a former SEC employee. POGO turned each statement into its own PDF so it can be accessed from each individual entry in the database.

Inclusion in POGO's report and database is not meant to suggest illegality or misdeeds. Instead, this report and the underlying data are intended to illustrate the extent to which former SEC employees have appeared before the Commission or communicated with SEC staff on behalf of outside clients in recent years, and to shed light on the SEC’s oversight of former employees who go through the revolving door.