Suzanne Plunkett/AP

Who is Mary Jo White, Obama's choice for top Wall Street cop?

The SEC nominee has earned her share of superlatives.

Mary Jo White, the woman President Obama plans to nominate on Thursday to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission, has earned her share of superlatives over a long, storied career.

Here’s what you need to know about White, who could become the nation’s next top financial cop:

She would be the first prosecutor to head the SEC. In choosing White, the administration is signaling it plans to take a tougher stance with Wall Street, a response to liberal criticisms that it has been too lenient toward an industry blamed for bringing the economy to its knees. She would be the first prosecutor to lead the SEC, according to The Wall Street Journal. But she already has another first under her belt: When she took over the high-profile role of U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Mary Jo White became the first woman to hold the position. With nearly 10 years in that role, she brings a wealth of experience prosecuting some of the nation’s most high-profile cases. 

She knows the finance industry well—maybe too well for some. Some critics might argue that White is too cozy with Wall Street. She has served as a director of the Nasdaq stock exchange and on its Executive, Audit and Policy Committee, according to her law-firm biography. And, as The Journal points out, she could face questions over her role as defense attorney for Bank of America's former head Kenneth Lewis in his civil trial.

White played a key role prosecuting Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida militants in the 1990s. In her nearly 10 years heading the attorney’s office, White took on a handful of the nation’s most high-profile terrorism cases. She led the prosecution of  “blind sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman, who ultimately was sentenced to two life sentences for planning a series of domestic bombings and assassinations, as well as Ramzi Yousef, a mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. She had become so steeped in knowledge of al-Qaida and its network that she said she immediately suspected Osama bin Laden when she heard of the bombings of U.S. Embassies in East Africa, according to a PBS Frontline interview. In 1998, her office indicted him for his role. 

White investigated President Clinton’s last-minute pardons. When White heard that Clinton had pardoned billionaire Marc Rich in his final days in office, she was “furious,” according to Timemagazine. Clinton had appointed her in 1993 to head the U.S. attorney's office in Southern New York, but the Rich pardon was particularly offensive because that office had spent so much effort prosecuting him over the years. In 1983, Rich was indicted by the New York attorney’s office on charges of tax evasion and illegal oil deals with Iran. He fled the country before his trial, but the office continued to pursue him under then-attorney Rudy Giuliani and later White herself, according toTime. Though Clinton pardoned Rich, White got her chance to fire back when Attorney General John Ashcroft chose her to investigate Clinton’s 177 last-minute pardons and commutations.

NEXT STORY: Analysis: Republicans on Benghazi

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.