September 25, 2013

Who Has the Power to Swear in a SEC Commissioner?

A while back, I blogged that Dr. Mike Piwowar was sworn in as an SEC Commissioner by the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office Director – and a few members asked me who had the authority to swear a Commissioner in? Before answering that question, let me explain what the oath is.

As noted on this site, federal employees take the same oath of office as Congress, by which they swear to support and defend the Constitution. Specifically, the oath is:

“I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.” 5 U.S.C. ยง3331

According to this site, the history of the oath for federal employees can be traced to the Constitution, where Article II includes the specific oath the President takes – to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Article VI requires an oath by all other government officials from all three branches, the military, and the states. It simply states that they “shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support the Constitution.” The very first law passed by the very first Congress implemented Article VI.

So now to the question of who within the SEC has the authority to administer the oath? I think it is pretty much anyone. As I recall, some low-level Staffer – who worked in human resources – swore me in on the first day when I joined the Staff (each time; I was sworn back in when I did my second tour of duty).

25 Years Ago Today: Grabbing a Doughnut…

Wow. Twenty-five years ago, I began my legal career by starting my job as an examiner in Corp Fin. Upon arriving and doing the half-day of orientation – including getting sworn in – I reported to duty in one of the banking branches. My branch chief handed me a copy of Regulation S-K and said “read this.” That was my training. More on all that someday.

Anyways, six of us started the same day. Back then, Corp Fin hired most of its new lawyers straight out of law school (laterals were rarely hired from firms, etc.) So at the beginning of every fall, there would be a new class of “newbies.” A handful would start every two weeks – ie. start of a bi-weekly pay period – through August and September (we started before we even learned whether we had passed a bar exam – I believe you would be on tentative status for a year, giving you three chances to pass). Most of the examiners in the Division were young and single – and from different parts of the country. A lot of fun.

So a hearty “shout out” to those that started in my class, including good friends Mark Coller, Bill Tolbert & Larry Spaccasi. Marty Dunn, Laurie Green, Peggy Fisher, Scott Freed & Todd Schiffman started a few weeks before. Here’s a recent pic of Bill & I using our fingers to signify the 25th anniversary. And Mark, Larry & I are in this old pic from back in the day. I had hair (and crutches as I started the job with a broken leg)!

Here are other recent pics of folks that worked with me back when I started: one of Jim Allegretto & me – and one of Mozelle Padgett & Louise Dorsey (I worked with Kay during my 2nd tour of SEC duty)

– Broc Romanek