White House Aide Wins $500,000 Seat on U.S. Accounting Watchdog

(Bloomberg) -- A White House economic policy aide was named to fill one of the most sought-after -- and highly paid -- regulatory jobs in Washington, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said in a statement Friday.

Rebekah Goshorn Jurata, special assistant to the president for financial policy at the National Economic Council, will join the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board in the coming weeks, the SEC said. Appointments to the panel, which oversees auditors, are coveted because they pay more than $500,000 a year.

The PCAOB, which was created by Congress in response to the Enron accounting fraud, polices auditors and write standards for the industry. It’s little known beyond Washington and accounting circles, and it has struggled to move past a 2017 scandal in which employees shared confidential information about its inspections with KPMG, one of the biggest firms it supervises.

Jurata, 37, doesn’t have an accounting background, but she has worked in financial regulatory positions during her career. Still, the move has generated controversy because she will replace Kathleen Hamm, a Democrat-aligned board member who had been seeking a second term. The SEC, which appoints PCAOB members, said Friday that Hamm will leave when her term expires at the end of the month.

Hamm, who joined the PCAOB in January 2018 to complete a partial term, has had policy disagreements with Chairman William Duhnke III, according to people familiar with the matter. She resisted Duhnke’s efforts to eliminate or severely cut back an investor advisory committee, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss internal matters at the board.

“Serving as a board member, while challenging, has been immensely rewarding by giving me the opportunity to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the dedicated PCAOB staff to improve audit quality on behalf of investors,” Hamm said.

In a statement, Duhnke expressed gratitude for Hamm’s tireless efforts and service to the board. “We have benefitted from her perspectives and contributions, particularly as it relates to cybersecurity,” he said.

Some outside groups had weighed in with the SEC on Hamm’s behalf. The Council of Institutional Investors, whose members include large pension funds, sent a letter to SEC Chairman Jay Clayton on Oct. 9 urging him not to replace her.

Others who follow the PCAOB closely also noted that until Clayton and the other SEC commissioners decided to replace the entire five-person board last year, members were regularly re-upped. As recently as last year, the SEC decided to give a second term to another current board member, Duane DesParte. His policy views are more closely aligned with Duhnke’s than Hamm, the people said.

Jurata, a lawyer, has held a number of financial policy jobs. Before joining the White House in September 2018, she was a deputy assistant secretary at the Treasury Department. Prior to that, she was a counsel on the House Financial Services Committee. She has also worked in various roles at the SEC.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.