Senate confirms three of four CFTC nominees
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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Senate confirms three of four CFTC nominees

By Mark S. Nelson, J.D.

The Senate confirmed J. Christopher Giancarlo to be chairman of the CFTC and Rostin Behnam and Brian Quintenz to be commissioners. But despite the Senate Agriculture Committee’s announcement that it had unanimously approved Behnam, Quintenz, and Dawn DeBerry Stump, it appeared that the Senate did not vote on Stump. Giancarlo has been awaiting a confirmation vote since he was reported out of the Agriculture Committee in June, while Behnam, Quintenz, and Stump were only recently reported to the full Senate.

A brief statement released by Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich) recognized the Giancarlo, Behnam, and Quintenz confirmations. Said the senators: "We are pleased to report full Senate confirmation of three CFTC leaders. We look forward to continuing to work together towards confirmation of a full slate of Commissioners so the CFTC can function with all hands on deck."

Giancarlo praised the "bipartisan support" for putting the Commission on the road to full strength. "I am pleased that the nominations of Russ Benham and Brian Quintenz were also confirmed by the Senate, and I look forward to the swift confirmation of Dawn Stump and getting a full Commission soon." Commissioner Sharon Bowen said Giancarlo would "lead the agency forward" on both the remaining issues from the Great Recession era and new issues that characterize the beginning of the next century of commodities and derivatives regulation. Bowen also offered her congratulations to Behnam and Quintenz.

New direction at CFTC. Since becoming acting chairman, Giancarlo proposed a significant restructuring of the CFTC and a regulatory policy focused on economic growth, enhancing U.S. financial markets, and "Rightsizing" the agency’s rulebook. The restructuring emphasizes market intelligence and will result in some functions now performed by the Division of Market Oversight shifting to the Division of Enforcement. Giancarlo also said he plans to address "flawed" swaps regulations.

During his time as a commissioner, Giancarlo encountered controversy over a position limits report that he later withdrew after Sen. Warren raised concerns about how the report was drafted. Policy-wise, Giancarlo has backed the overall direction of the Dodd-Frank Act’s swaps reforms, but in a white paper he also questioned the rules applicable to swap execution facilities.

Quintenz was originally nominated, and then re-nominated, by President Obama before his nomination was withdrawn by President Trump only to be nominated once again by Trump. Quintenz’s background includes roots in the hedge fund and alternative investment space. Quintenz is the founder, managing principal, and CIO of Saeculum Capital Management LLC. Quintenz also was a senior policy adviser to former Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio). In the early 2000s, he served as director of travel and assistant to the treasurer for the Presidential Exploratory Committee of then-Congressman, and now Governor of Ohio, John Kasich.

Trump nominated Behnam in July. Behnam’s experience includes serving as senior counsel to Sen. Stabenow and in similar roles for the senator since 2011. In addition to private practice in New York, Behnam has worked at the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General.

Trump had announced plans to nominate Stump in June. Stump has held senior staff jobs in both the Senate and House and, as a staffer for the Senate Agriculture Committee, helped to negotiate derivatives policies. The White House also has emphasized Stump’s work as the Futures Industry Association’s executive director of the Americas Advisory Board. She also served as vice president of government affairs at the New York Stock Exchange.

Almost full strength. Senators on the Agriculture Committee said they moved quickly on the Behnam, Quintenz, and Stump nominations because approval of the trio by the full Senate would bring the Commission, which has been operating with just two commissioners for much of 2017, to full strength. "We’re pleased our Committee has done its work to get these nominees through in a bipartisan manner," said a press release.

But without Senate confirmation of Stump, the Commission will only approach full strength in the near term, and may soon lose another commissioner. Commissioner Sharon Bowen announced her plans to leave the Commission in June at the conclusion of a meeting of the Market Risk Advisory Committee, which Bowen sponsors. Bowen suggested that the short-handed Commission’s inability to address larger policy questions was a factor in her decision.

MainStory: TopStory CFTCNews CommodityFutures Derivatives DoddFrankAct ExchangesMarketRegulation FedTracker FinancialIntermediaries RiskManagement Swaps TrumpAdministrationNews Securities

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