SEC chair nominee has ties to several Obama bundlers

By Laurie Bennett

January 25, 2013 at 8:12am

Those who regard Wall Street financiers as thugs have reason to be pleased by President Obama’s choice to head the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mary Jo White, nominated yesterday, has prosecuted mobsters and terrorists.

White served as U.S. attorney of the the Southern District of New York, appointed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton.

Gambino crime family boss John Gotti and Muslim cleric Omar Abdel Rahman are among the many defendants convicted under her watch.

“You don’t want to mess with Mary Jo,” Obama said during his announcement at the White House.

Yet as a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton, she has also defended such top executives as former Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack, former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta, and former Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis.

Her connection to Lewis, whom she defended in a civil fraud suit, obviously didn’t hurt her chances with the Obama administration. Lewis was a bundler for Obama’s 2012 campaign.

So were two current directors of JPMorgan Chase, which White represented from 2010 to 2012. JPMorgan board members Crandall Bowles, wife of Erskine Bowles, and Chicago businessman James Crown both raised money for Obama last year.

White’s husband, John W. White, headed the SEC’s division of corporation finance from 2006 to 2008. He’s now a partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore.

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