SEC recruits New Jersey attorney general to lead enforcement

After progressives attacked his April decision to hire Alex Oh, a corporate defense lawyer, as the SEC Chair, President Joe Biden has been under pressure to find an enforcement leader who will be tough on Wall Street. After being reprimanded by a federal judge, Oh and other Exxon Mobil employees in a case brought by Indonesian villagers, Oh quit her job in less than one week.Grewal is a Democratic Governor appointee. Phil Murphy's appointee, Grewal, has a reputation for being tough against former President Donald Trump. He was the leader of the state's lawsuits against former President Trump. These lawsuits covered a wide range of issues including the Affordable Care Act and loosening environmental protections. He was also a leader in the areas of gun violence and police reform. He was the head of the States Securities Bureau, which during his tenure implemented actions related to crypto offerings, subprime automobile lending, and predatory student loans.Murphy stated that Attorney General Grewal was an indispensable member of our administration, and a dedicated public servant to New Jersey residents, for his efforts in resisting the Trump administration's attacks against New Jersey and its diverse communities. He also enacted historic reforms in policing, leading the fight against gun violence and establishing new reforms in policing. "Though we will miss his leadership, he is the right person to protect all investors across the country, and I congratulate SEC chair Gensler on this outstanding selection."Grewal was an assistant U.S. Attorney in New Jersey's Criminal Division and the Eastern District of New York before he joined the state. Before his service in the government, he was a private practitioner from 1999-2004 to 2008-2010 at Howrey LLP. Private sector work included representation of public companies in financial regulator proceedings and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations.Wall Street watchdog organizations applaud Grewal's appointment after complaining for many years that SEC enforcement failed powerful financial institutions to answer the law, particularly when it hired corporate lawyers to direct those efforts.Dennis Kelleher, President and CEO of Better Markets, stated that Grewal "appears not to be the opposite Wall Street defense lawyer. This is a welcome break from the past and exactly what the SEC Division of Enforcement needs."Gensler's ability to empower a high-energy individual already well-established within the public service to head the SEC's critical Enforcement division is amazing," stated Jeff Hauser, Revolving Door Project Executive Director. Hauser was opposed to Oh's April hiring. "The SEC's enforcement section is under increasing pressure and the demands are growing rapidly. This makes it crucial that experienced personnel have the ability to handle a wide range of issues for the public good.Grewal was the New Jersey's top law enforcement leader in turbulent times. His priorities reflect that. He changed the rules that govern police force and allowed officers to use deadly force only as an option.Alyana Alfaro, Murphy spokesperson, said that Murphy will name an interim attorney-general this week to replace Grewal's remaining four-year term.This report was contributed by Matt Friedman