Commissioner Allison Lee announces her departure from the SEC

  • March 16, 2022

The commissioner, whose exit will leave a second vacancy at the administration, said she will remain on the job until a successor can take office.

Securities and Exchange Commissioner Allison Herren Lee announced that she would be stepping down from her post at the end of her term in June.

In a Tuesday announcement, Lee said that she will remain in the role until her successor has been confirmed. The SEC commissioner has spent less than three years at her current position, having been sworn in in 2019 to serve out the remainder of a five-year term expiring in June.

With her departure, Lee, a Democrat who replaced former commissioner Kara Stein, will create a second vacancy at the SEC, with another left open by Republican Elad Roisman, who announced he would be leaving in January. Commissioner Hester Peirce, known to many in the space as the “Crypto Mom,” is currently the sole Republican on the five-member commission. By law, no more than three members of the commission can belong to the same party.

Lee worked at the SEC for over a decade before her appointment, serving as her predecessor’s counsel and as senior counsel of the complex financial instruments unit before becoming a commissioner. She was the SEC’s acting chair from January to April 2021, after which time Gary Gensler was confirmed as the regulatory body’s head.

Changes in the composition of the SEC could have a direct impact on the cryptocurrency industry. The commission under Gensler has been notably active in its enforcement activities within the industry. Lee debated Peirce last year at a conference at Georgetown University, where she argued for maintaining the application of existing standards to cryptocurrency:

“I think we have to evolve with changing technologies, but I don’t think that means we change our principles or stray from our mission, which I think has worked well for decades.”

Lee also stated in an address to the Practicing Law Institute earlier this month that “we have seen an entirely new, multi-trillion dollar industry develop around cryptocurrency and digital assets that largely defies existing laws and regulations.”

Lee was noted for her climate advocacy, having joined the SEC from the energy industry. According to the New York Times, Lee will take up a visiting professorship in Italy after she leaves the SEC.