The Revolving Regulatory Door

Yet another regulator is leaving for the greener pastures of a DC based law firm.  This time Steve Luparello, a 16 year veteran of FINRA, has announced that he will be joining the law firm of WilmerHale.  Luparello was Vice Chairman of FINRA and oversaw all of their regulatory operations including Enforcement, Market Regulation, Member Regulation and Business Solutions.  Let’s just say, this guy knows a lot.  According to the NY Times , Luparello said “It has been the job and the place of a lifetime. It’s hard to leave the nest”. Sure must be hard to leave the nest considering Steve made $1.4 million in 2011 even as FINRA lost $84 million in 2011.

Steve will be joining a host of other ex-regulators that are now employed by WilmerHale. You may remember the name WilmerHale from 2010 when a story broke that the SEC inspector general was investigating whether or not all of the movements between the SEC and certain law firms was hurting their potential actions.  According to a June 2010 Forbes article:

The internal SEC probe reportedly involves concerns that a private-equity firm was able to avoid fraud charges only after enlisting the help of William McLucas, a former SEC director who’d joined white-shoe law firm WilmerHale (whose web page bills it as “the industry leader in securities enforcement, regulation and defense.”) There have been no allegations that McLucas acted improperly… WilmerHale’s links to the SEC don’t end with McLucas. Meredith Cross spent eight years at the SEC in the 1990s before moving to WilmerHale, where until recently she was a partner. In April 2009 she moved back to the SEC once again with the agency appointing Cross director of its Division of Corporate Finance.”

We’re not quite sure what became of this SEC investigation.  But the Inspector General at the time, David Kotz, has since decided to leave the SEC and join a private investigative firm.

And of course the revolving door turns in both directions.  Last year, Daniel Gallagher was named as a SEC commissioner.  Before being appointed to this post, Mr Gallagher was a partner at WilmerHale.  In 2010, the SEC named Joseph Brenner as Chief Counsel of the Division of Enforcement.  Prior to this appointment, Brenner worked at WilmerHale as a partner since 1990.

We can go on and on but you get the point.  No wonder why nothing seems to get done to fix our broken markets.