CFTC’s Gensler has Options as Republican Resigns from Commission

U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) commissioner Jill Sommers resigned from her post today. Sommers leaves the position with more than a year left on her term. She was nominated to the commission by George W. Bush (2007) and renominated by Barack Obama.

CFTC’s Sommers on Resigning

Sommers, who lead the CFTC investigation of the MF Global fallout, had the following to say in her resignation letter:

“As I prepare to leave the Commodity Futures Trading Commission I would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of my fellow Commissioners and the many talented staff with whom I have had the pleasure of working for the past five years. While many challenges remain in finalizing the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act, I have every confidence that the American public will be well-served by their continuing efforts.”

Sommers’ departure is abrupt and somewhat unexpected. She was discussed as a possible alternative to chairman Gary Gensler, with whom she has often disagreed, before Barack Obama won the presidential election.

During her tenure in Washington, Sommers also worked as a lobbyist for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME Group) and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association. Sommers began her career as an intern for Robert Dole of Kansas, the former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate. Commissioner Sommers’ husband, Mike Sommers, is the chief aide to Speaker of the House John Boehner, a position he assumed earlier this year.

CFTC Without Sommers

Sommers’ exit will certainly strengthen the hand of CFTC Commissioner Gary Gensler; with Sommers out of the picture, Gensler will be forced to content with only one Republican, Scott O’Malia. According to her letter of resignation, Sommers will step away sometime after the first quarter of the year.

This could pave the way for more aggressive regulatory maneuvers on the part of Gensler and Bart Chilton. Sommers was a considerate if outspoken critic of derivatives regulation and especially matters of registering with U.S. regulators.

 See statement here.

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