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Atkins' SEC Departure Puts Commission in Limbo

Securities and Exchange Commissioner Paul Atkins has announced he will leave the agency when his term expires in June to return to the private sector.

The five-commissioner SEC has been operating with just three commissioners, all Republicans, since the recent departure of the Democrats Roel Campos and Annette Nazareth.

President Bush has nominated Democrats Elisse Walter, a former deputy director of the SEC's corporate finance division, and Luis Aguilar, a former SEC lawyer, to fill the two empty seats. They are awaiting approval from the Senate.

Atkins has been a vocal proponent for improved transparency and cost consciousness in rulemaking.

"Historically, Commissioners have not been very vocal," said industry consultant Geoffrey Bobroff, president of Bobroff Consultants of East Greenwich, R.I. "Atkins has been known for opposing various chairmen on proposals in a variety of areas, and has written numerous dissenting views on decisions. His voice will be missed."

Atkins, 50, has been with the SEC for almost 10 years, serving six as a commissioner. He previously worked as a corporate lawyer in New York and Paris. He received his J.D. from the Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1983.

Bobroff said Atkins will likely wait until the two Democrat seats are filled before he leaves, up to 18 months after his term expires, but it is unknown if Bush will name his replacement or leave that job to the next president, whomever that may be.

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