The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that Brent J. Fields has been appointed as the agency’s Secretary, who is responsible for overseeing the administrative aspects of Commission meetings, rulemakings, and procedures. Let’s give Mr. Fields a warm welcome with a flood of e-mail supporting the petition to require companies to disclose political spending.
Mr. Fields is an 18-year SEC veteran who has worked primarily in its Division of Investment Management. Over the last nine years, he has served as an Assistant Director leading an office that reviews the disclosures of investment companies and as the Assistant Director leading a disclosure rulemaking office. In those capacities he was instrumental in the implementation of the SEC’s mutual fund disclosure reform initiative, which included a new summary prospectus to give fund investors a concise, plain English description of the key information needed to make informed investment decisions.
In his new role leading the SEC’s Office of the Secretary, Mr. Fields will oversee the agency’s administrative functions, which include issuing orders and other documents approved by the Commission as well as maintaining the records of all Commission actions and enforcement proceedings. The Secretary’s office also advises the Commissioners and staff on questions of practices and procedures. Mr. Fields succeeds Elizabeth Murphy, who left the Secretary post to become Associate Director (Legal) in the agency’s Division of Corporation Finance. Said SEC Chair Mary Jo White:
The Office of the Secretary is the lifeblood of the Commission as it performs administrative functions that are critical to our rulemaking, enforcement, and record keeping procedures. We are in the process of enhancing the records and filing system for our administrative proceedings and Brent’s extensive management experience and thorough understanding of Commission processes will enable him to be a strong leader of our efforts to improve the administrative functions of the Commission.
Mr. Fields issued the following statement,
I look forward to serving in this new role and working with the dedicated staff to effectively and efficiently fulfill the important duties of the Office of the Secretary, which plays such a vital role in the overall mission of the Commission.
Mr. Fields began working in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement in April 1996, and moved to the Division of Investment Management later the following year where he served in various leadership roles. From 2002 to 2004, he served as a counsel to then-SEC Commissioner Paul S. Atkins.
Mr. Fields earned his law degree cum laude from University of Georgia School of Law in 1992. He worked as an associate at the law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. in Washington D.C. prior to joining the SEC staff. After law school, Mr. Fields clerked for the Honorable Anthony A. Alaimo in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. Mr. Fields also is a C.P.A. and earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Virginia Tech.
Let’s welcome Mr. Fields. Last week, Lucian Bebchuk, Harvard Law School, and Robert J. Jackson, Jr., Columbia Law School, posted The Million-Comment-Letter Petition: The Rulemaking Petition on Disclosure of Political Spending Attracts More than 1,000,000 SEC Comment Letters. Apparently one million isn’t enough to change the SEC’s rulemaking priorities. Let’s help him put that enhanced filing system to work with a million more e-mails in support.
Please continue to send e-mails in support of the petition to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include File Number 4-637 in the subject line. Copy and paste my comments or write your own:
Mr. Brent J. Fields, Secretary
Securities and Exchange Commission
100 F Street, Northeast
Washington, D.C. 20549
Re: File Number 4-637.
Dear Mr. Fields:
I am an individual investor concerned with how the corporations I invest in are spending corporate funds on political activities. I write in support of a petition by the Committee on Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending, File Number 4-637. In Citizens United v. FEC the US Supreme Court noted that shareowners could “determine whether their corporation’s political speech advances the corporation’s interest in making profits” and could discipline directors and executives who use corporate resources inconsistently with shareowner interests.
However, unless shareowners can easily access information about a company’s political speech and expenditures we will be unable to know whether such speech “advances the corporation’s interest in making profits” and will be unable to discipline directors and executives. The rulemaking sought by the petitioners would address that issue by giving shareowners the information we need to hold the managers and directors of our companies accountable.
Surely, three years and more than a million comments later, it is time for the SEC to act.
To read more about the issues, see Robert Kropp’s Regulate Corporate Political Spending, One Million Say to SEC at Socialfunds.com.