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Who Could Trump Appoint as SEC Chair? Pro-Crypto Dan Gallagher and Hester Peirce Floated as Potential Nominees

Published July 4, 2024 3:37 PM
James Morales
Published July 4, 2024 3:37 PM

Key Takeaways

  • If Donald Trump wins November’s presidential election, who he chooses to lead the SEC will have a significant impact on the US crypto industry.
  • Dan Gallagher and Hester Peirce are among the names floated as potential Trump appointees to the role of SEC Chair.
  • Peirce is a sitting SEC Commissioner affectionately known as “crypto mom”.
  • Gallagher served as Commissioner under President Obama and is now Robinhood Markets’ Chief Legal Officer.

If Donald Trump returns to the White House after November’s elections, who he appoints to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission will have profound consequences for the American crypto community.

among the candidates floated for the role, current SEC commissioner Hester Peirce and former Commissioner Dan Gallagher have attracted significant attention. But where do they stand on crypto?

Crypto Mom as SEC Chair?

Sometimes affectionately referred to as the SEC’s “Crypto Mom,” for the last 4 years Peirce has been the most vocal proponent of the US crypto sector in a Commission that has taken a generally harsh line on the industry. 

First appointed during the Obama administration to fill a Republican seat at the SEC,  Peirce gained the support of Donald Trump in 2017, when he nominated her to complete the remainder of her term. In 2020, the Senate confirmed Peirce for another five-year term.

During Gensler’s tenure, Peirce has offered many dissenting opinions of the SEC’s crypto policy decisions, occasionally standing out as the lone pro-crypto Commissioner when even her Republican colleague Mark Uyeda sided with the majority. 

Elevating a sitting Commissioner would make a lot of sense for Trump and out of the two Republicans currently serving on the SEC, Peirce appears to have his favor. 

With her strong commitment to a deregulatory agenda, nominating Peirce at a time when the SEC’s power is already being reeled in by the Supreme Court could have a lasting impact on the agency’s reach. 

However, it is worth considering that during his previous presidency, Trump appointed Jay Clayton to the role, a lawyer specialized in investment banking who previously advised the likes of Barclays and Goldman Sachs.

Dan Gallagher: a Corporate Lawyer With SEC Experience

If Trump repeats his previous form and injects some new blood to lead the agency, Robinhood Markets’ Chief Legal Officer Dan Gallagher would be in line with his preference for Wall Street lawyers.

Of course, Gallagher isn’t strictly an outsider and was previously nominated as a Republican Commissioner by Obama in 2011.

During a hearing  of the House Committee on Agriculture in June last year, Gallagher was critical of the SEC’s response to Robinhood’s efforts to register as a crypto broker.

“When Chair Gensler at the SEC in 2021 said, ‘Come in and register,’ we did,” he said in his testimony: 

“We went through a 16-month process with the SEC staff trying to register a special purpose broker-dealer. And then we were pretty summarily told in March that that process was over and we would not see any fruits of that effort.”

Other Names Floated to Lead the SEC

Alongside Peirce and Gallagher, a handful of other names have been also floated as potential Trump appointments to the SEC Chair.

These include J. Christopher Giancarlo and Heath Tarbert, both former Chairs of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) during the previous Trump administration. Tarbert is currently employed as the CLO of Circle and has been an outspoken critic of the SEC’s crypto crackdown.

According to CNBC , people close to Trump have discussed the possibility of nominating Gallagher, Giancarlo, Tarbert and a fourth possible candidate, Paul Atkins.

Ultimately, any Trump appointee would likely pursue a laissez-faire approach to regulation that contrasts with Gensler’s more interventionist stance. But deregulation alone isn’t a silver bullet. And for the US crypto sector, nothing can beat a sympathetic SEC Chair who really understands the issues at play.

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