A move by the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore to excise references to uncommonly close regulatory ties follows a Bloomberg story that pointed to an ongoing conflict between John White’s service to the group while his wife, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Jo White, has oversight responsibility for the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, the audit regulator.
A spokesperson for Cravath did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
The conflict has existed since April 2013, when Mary Jo White became head of the agency. John White has served on the PCAOB advisory committee continuously since he was at the SEC between 2006 and 2008.
He did resign as an equity partner at Cravath when his wife took the chairwoman’s job, since Cravath is a top white-collar and corporate defense firm that represents clients at the SEC frequently. Mary Jo White has recused herself from weighing in or voting on SEC cases when her husband’s firm is involved. The issue has been receiving new attention since Mary Jo White told reporters last Wednesday at a meeting of the Investor Advisory Group, according to a Wall Street Journal report, that the SEC is “identifying interested and qualified candidates” to chair the PCAOB. The current chairman, James Doty, whose term expires in October, has said he’d like to stay in the job.
The Bloomberg report cited the Center for Effective Government, an advocacy group, calling for White to step aside from the selection of the next PCAOB chairman.