NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Wall Street veteran William Donaldson, the founder of the former firm Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette, is the Bush administration's choice to be the new chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Donaldson, whose firm was sold to Credit Suisse First Boston in 2000, was introduced by President Bush at a news conference Tuesday.
|William Donaldson is President Bush's choice to head the SEC.
"Bill Donaldson will be a strong leader with a clear mission – to vigorously enforce the nation's laws against corporate corruption and uphold highest standards of integrity in the securities markets," the president said.
Bush also announced that he would seek another increase in the budget for the SEC in fiscal year 2004, which starts in October next year, which he said would bring the budget to nearly double the level of the just completed fiscal year.
If confirmed, Donaldson, 71, would succeed Harvey Pitt, who resigned under fire Nov. 5 after it was revealed that he had not disclosed questions about his choice to head a new accounting oversight board.
He thanked Bush for the opportunity to serve, but told reporters it would be inappropriate to comment on his plans other than a commitment to restore investor confidence in corporations and the financial industry. Neither he nor Bush took any questions at the press conference announcing the appointment.
"Confidence in U.S. corporate and financial industries has been seriously eroded during the past few years," he said, describing the current environment as "this most important and challenging time."
The SEC has been under greater scrutiny due to the attention given to accounting and corporate misdeeds that resulted in the nation's two largest bankruptcies, at WorldCom and Enron, and shook investors' confidence in the market.
Donaldson co-founded the investment banking firm DLJ in 1959 and was the firm's chairman and CEO. He also was chairman and CEO of the New York Stock Exchange from 1990 to 1995 and was chairman and CEO of the insurance titan Aetna Inc. (AET: Research, Estimates) from 2000 to 2001, helping reshape the firm through a spinoff and sale of its financial services division.
He also was a founding dean of the Yale School of Management and a former Marine who served as a deputy to Henry Kissinger at the State Department in the Nixon and Ford administrations, and was an advisor to Nelson Rockefeller during his brief tenure as vice president.
The move comes a day after Bush announced that CSX Corp. CEO John Snow is his choice to be the new Treasury Secretary. The administration has been revamping its economic team, as Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and chief economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey announced their resignation Friday morning.
Donaldson is a Wall Street veteran whom Bush described as "one of the most respected business leaders in our nation." Pitt had been widely criticized as chairman of the SEC since early in his tenure for his ties to former law clients in the accounting industry.
The final straw for Pitt came when he did not inform the administration or other members of the SEC that William Webster, the former FBI and CIA director and his choice to head a new accounting oversight board, had been a member of the audit committee of a company that was facing its own shareholders' questions about its accounting practices. Webster subsequently resigned from the committee as well.