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January 25, 2013 at 7:46 AM

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Hope springs: Mary Jo White nominated to head SEC

Are you still swallowing bile about the mortgage crisis? Still mad that no Wall Street banker went to jail for gambling billions of dollars on the housing bubble and sending homeowners into foreclosure?

Hope springs after President Obama nominated Mary Jo White to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday. White is a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York who prosecuted terrorists in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and mob boss John Gotti.

"You don't want to mess with Mary Jo," Obama said in an Associated Press report.

Let's hope Wall Street won't want to mess with her.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has been toothless for a long time. I wrote about the dot-com era, from its questionable accounting to outright deceit, for the news side in the late '90s. Reporter David Heath and I exposed accounting tricks in a series on InfoSpace, a Bellevue Internet company that turned its founder Naveen Jain into a billionaire and its small shareholders into paupers. What did we hear from the regulators? Crickets.

It's too soon to tell whether White will be the bulldog I've been waiting for. After leaving the U.S. Attorney's office, she worked for law firm Debevoise & Plimpton, where she defended a major financial institution over subprime loans, a major pharmaceutical company and numerous companies in SEC enforcement proceedings, according to the law firm's website. Let's hope she figured where the commission's soft spots are, and how to turn them into abs of steel.

The Senate should confirm White.


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