Hillary Clinton is planning to name Gary Gensler, a former top federal financial regulator and strong advocate for strict Wall Street rules, as the chief financial officer of her campaign, according to a Democrat familiar with the decision.
Gensler, in his role as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, was a leading player in the drafting and then implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act, the financial rules that President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010 in the wake of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Gensler also served in President Bill Clinton's Treasury Department.
For Clinton, who has been fighting her left flank’s concern that she is too cozy with Wall Street, Gensler is a notable hire. He became known as someone with sharp elbows —even during his negotiations within the Obama administration—in his push for tighter regulation.
Clinton's campaign said it does not comment on personnel decisions before they are finalized. A phone and e-mail message to Gensler weren't immediately returned.
During her first visit to Iowa as a newly minted presidential candidate on April 14, Clinton struck a populist tone, saying "there’s something wrong when hedge fund managers pay less in taxes than nurses or the truckers I saw on I-80," a reference to her two-day roadtrip to the state from New York.
"I think it’s fair to say that if you look across the country, the deck is stacked in favor of those already at the top," the former secretary of state told a roundtable at Kirkwood Community College.
Still, Clinton has fought the contention that she's too close to those at the top of the economic ladder—something progressive groups say raises concerns about her candidacy. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a longtime advocate for tougher Wall Street restrictions who has said she is not running for president, has been the preferred candidate for some of those groups. While Gensler's hire is unlikely to assuage those concerns entirely, it would put a trusted financial reform player into a senior role in the Clinton campaign.
Though a former partner at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Gensler became a champion for strict new Wall Street regulation and was viewed by financial reform advocates as one of their top allies throughout his time as chairman of the CFTC. In his role at the agency, Gensler pushed hard for rules transforming one of the most lucrative parts of Wall Street before the crisis: derivatives, the products investor Warren Buffett famously labeled "financial weapons of mass destruction.’’ In frequent speeches, public and private meetings at the agency and testimony to Congress, he used his nearly five-year tenure in the job to seek dozens of rules reining in Wall Street’s control of the $700 trillion market .
Wall Street bristled at Gensler’s efforts. Banks, hedge funds and other companies visited the agency thousands of times pushing changes to the regulations. When they didn’t get what they want, the industry’s top lobbying groups then sued the agency multiple times.
—With assistance from Jennifer Epstein in New York.