Common sense and partisan politics often collide in Washington, D.C.
A perfect example of that collision is currently unfolding in our nation’s capital, and Louisiana’s U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu (Democrat) and David Vitter (Republican) are uniquely positioned to unify one of the most politically divided Senates in history to oppose a controversial presidential nomination.
Attorney Sharon Bowen’s nomination to serve as a Commodities Futures Trading Commission commissioner has been questioned by numerous Republicans, but only a handful of Democrats. If the Senate confirms the nomination on June 3, it will be because political partisanship rather than good government guided the Democrats’ vote.
Bowen heads the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, which was established by Congress to protect investors whose assets are missing when a brokerage firm becomes insolvent.
SIPC is currently defending an SEC lawsuit for its failure to protect the victims of the Stanford Ponzi scheme whose assets were missing when SIPC-member Stanford Group Company became insolvent.
Thousands of those victims are Louisianans who lost their life savings.
Landrieu and Vitter have good reason to lead a bipartisan effort to oppose Bowen’s confirmation. The Stanford Ponzi scheme wreaked havoc on Louisiana’s middle class, and Bowen’s actions have caused further devastation.
Bipartisan leadership to oppose Bowen’s confirmation will require Landrieu to oppose her own party’s nominee and encourage her Democrat colleagues to do the same.
While Landrieu has spoken out about Bowen’s nomination, she has not outright opposed the nomination. She stated she is “carefully reviewing” the nomination, and is “seriously concerned” about how SIPC has treated Stanford victims.
Vitter has taken a more aggressive approach to oppose Bowen’s nomination. He placed a hold on the nomination due to Bowen’s role in denying the SEC’s directive to provide Stanford victims the same protections that were afforded to the victims of the Madoff Ponzi scheme. Additionally, Vitter asked Bowen several times to answer questions related to SIPC’s undue influence by SIFMA — the Wall Street lobbyist that advised the SIPC Board to vote against protecting Stanford victims. Bowen has refused to respond.
Politics aside, it would run afoul of responsible government for the Senate to put Bowen in a position of authority for one financial industry watchdog — the CFTC — while another financial watchdog—the SEC—has accused the organization she heads of violating a law. That decision is especially egregious considering Bowen’s only qualifications for the position come from her legal representation of some of Wall Street’s biggest financial institutions — those “Too Big to Fail” banks that cost taxpayers almost a trillion dollars to bail out.
Bowen should not be rewarded for her (alleged) violation of the law or her track record for acting as Wall Street’s puppet. Additionally, investors who depend on the CFTC to regulate financial markets should not be punished by partisan politics.
Stanford victims in Louisiana are depending on Landrieu to join Vitter in opposing Bowen’s confirmation. If instead she follows the Democrat’s leadership, it will be in support of Wall Street to the detriment of thousands of Main Street Louisianans.
Angela Shaw Kogutt
co-director and founder, Investor Protection Alliance