this is a sidebar: who fires the SEC chair if the President can’t? The Fed? Thanks. Interested to know.
Something I saw from another FR post:
The question is not one of the Constitution, but rather one of statute. The creation, composition, and powers of the SEC are found in the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The commission consists of five members who are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The terms of the commissioners are staggered and the basic length of each term is five years. No more than three of the commissioners may be members of the same political party. The statute does not provide for a chairman. Until 1950, the Chairman was elected annually. Following Reorganization Plan No. 10 of 1950 (see, Reorganization Act of 1949, 5 U.S.C. §§ 901-913), the President designates the chairman. Pursuant to this Reorganization Plan, the chairman succeeded to most of the executive and administrative functions of the commission. S.E.C. v. Blinder, Robinson & Co., Inc., 855 F.2d 677, 681 (10th Cir. 1988).
The Presidents powers with respect to appointment and removal of commissioners from the commission thus differ from the Presidents power with respect to the appointment and removal of one of those commissioners from the office of Chairman. As to the former, The Act does not expressly give to the President the power to remove a commissioner. However, for the purposes of this case, we accept appellants assertions in their brief, that it is commonly understood that the President may remove a commissioner only for inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office. Id. Whether the President could remove Cox from the Commision on one of these grounds is debatable, at best, but at least theoretically its possible.
What is not debatable, however, is that The Chairman of the SEC serves as such solely at the pleasure of the President. Harvey L. Pitt & Karen L. Shapiro, Securities Regulation by Enforcement: A Look Ahead at the Next Decade, 7 Yale J. on Reg. 149, 280 n.557 (1990). Indeed, the Tenth Circuit so held in the Blinder, Robinson case cited above. See 855 F.2d at 681, stating that as the President has the power to choose the chairman of the SEC from its commissioners to serve an indefinite term, it follows that the chairman serves at the pleasure of the President.
Hence, when McCain said The Chairman of the SEC serves at the appointment of the President, he was right at the very least insofar as Coxs position as Chairman (as opposed to his position as a commissioner) is concerned.