In recent years, the SEC has been faulted by lawmakers, judges and investors for failing to bring more cases related to the financial market turmoil of 2008. White said last year that prosecutors shouldn’t allow public anger to influence investigations.
“You should be aggressive where there is a crime,” she said at a New York University School of Law event in February 2012. Prosecutors must not “fail to distinguish what is actually criminal and what is just mistaken behavior, what is even reckless risk-taking, and not bow to the frenzy.”
White also surfaced in an SEC controversy in when she worked on behalf of Morgan Stanley to vet John Mack as a new CEO of the investment bank. White sought information in 2005 from then-SEC enforcement director Linda Thomsen about what an SEC insider-trading probe of Mack and hedge-fund manager Pequot Capital Management Inc. revealed about Mack’s involvement.
An SEC inspector general’s report issued in 2008 questioned whether Thomsen should have shared information about a potential target with White. The SEC later informed Mack and Pequot that it had closed the investigation and wouldn’t pursue any action against them.
Former SEC chairman Mary Schapiro stepped down from the top job last month and was succeeded by Walter, who spent the past four years as an SEC commissioner. Walter was able to become chairman without going through a second Senate confirmation and can stay in the job as long as the end of this year.
White’s husband, John W. White, was head of the SEC’s division of corporation finance, which is responsible for disclosure policies, under Republican SEC chairman Christopher Cox from 2006 to 2008. He’s now a partner at law firm Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP.