Resigns after one week: SEC’s Enforcement Director steps down amid criticism

Rick Steves

The SEC has announced Melissa Hodgman will return to the role of Acting Director of the Division of Enforcement after holding that position from January through April.

Alex Oh, the recently appointed SEC’s Director of the Division of Enforcement has unexpectedly resigned her position for personal reasons.

With only one week on the job, Ms. Oh gave in to mounting criticism from progressives over her past work as a corporate defense lawyer following a federal court ruling in a case involving one of her corporate clients, ExxonMobil.

“A development arose this week in one of the cases on which I worked while still in private law practice. I have reached the conclusion that I cannot address this development without it becoming an unwelcome distraction to the important work of the Division”, Ms. Oh stated in her resignation email to SEC Chair Gary Gensler.

Three leading progressive advocacy groups – Demand Progress, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and the Revolving Door Project – have recently expressed their surprise and disappointment toward Alex Oh’s appointment as Director of Enforcement and urged Gary Gensler to withdraw her hiring.

Ms. Oh represented Fortune 100 companies during the two decades she worked at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, and the progressive groups told SEC’s Gensler they doubted she “will change her entire legal philosophy toward fully enforcing the very laws and regulations whose enforcement she has built a career of defending against.”

The SEC has announced Melissa Hodgman will return to the role of Acting Director of the Division of Enforcement after holding that position from January through April: “Melissa is an exceptional attorney who has proven to be an effective leader of the Enforcement Division”, Mr. Gensler stated.

“I’m grateful that she will take on this role again and look forward to working closely with her to fulfill the mission of the SEC. I thank Alex for her willingness to serve the country at this important time.”

She was the Associate Director in the SEC’s Home Office since October 2016. Ms. Hodgman began working in the Enforcement Division in 2008 as a staff attorney.

She joined the Market Abuse Unit in 2010 and was promoted to Assistant Director in 2012. She received the Ellen B. Ross Award, the 2010 SEC Chairman’s Award, the 2017 Arthur F. Mathews Award, and the 2020 Chairman’s Award for Excellence with the SEC’s Employee Affinity Groups, as well as a number of Division Director Awards.

 

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