If Elizabeth Warren had trouble seeing eye-to-eye with the current former federal prosecutor leading the SEC, she’s really might hate the next one. The most recent episode of “Independent Agency Apprentice,” the spin-off of the hit “Cabinet Apprentice,” featured Debra Wong Yang, former U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, current lawyer to Chris Christie and Travis Kalanick, and possible successor to Mary Jo White.
Like Ms. White, Ms. Yang is a litigation expert who isn’t steeped in financial policy-making, which is the biggest job of an SEC chairman. The agency’s next leader will take over at a time when congressional Republicans are pressuring the SEC to loosen fundraising rules for smaller public companies, lighten its oversight of private-equity firms, and repeal executive-compensation rules opposed by corporations.
As with so much of the current presidential transition, there’s something schizophrenic about the SEC chair sweepstakes. On the one hand, President Trump has vowed to tear America’s financial regulations to the ground, and one of the other contestants for White’s seat is former SEC Commissioner Paul Atkins, has spent his post-SEC career heaping scorn upon Dodd-Frank and all other efforts to regulate anything that deals with money. On the other, he’s keeping Preet Bharara around—a Preet Bharara undoubtedly buoyed in his handcuffing financiers fetish by yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling that insider trading, does, in fact, still exist.
Yang’s been off the federal dole since 2006, when she quit as U.S. attorney to get hers: “When you’re starting to borrow money from your mother to pay the mortgage, it’s time to leave the government.” Either she’s paid off that mortgage or padded her next well enough in a decade as a biglaw partner, because she’s apparently ready to serve the public again. Certainly, she’s kept herself busy enough.
Now a partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Ms. Yang has defended ride-sharing company Uber Technologies Inc. in a class-action lawsuit filed by drivers who argue the company should treat them as employees rather than contractors….
Ms. Yang has also defended the University of Southern California in a civil-rights lawsuit and represented fantasy-sports company DraftKings Inc. against state and federal government concerns that its business might constitute illegal gambling….
Ms. Yang was recently involved in representing Mr. Christie against claims that his administration ordered lane closures at the George Washington Bridge to punish a local mayor who didn’t endorse him.
We think she’ll fit right in.