Jay Clayton (attorney)

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Jay Clayton
Jay Clayton.jpg
32nd Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission
Assumed office
May 4, 2017
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byMary Jo White
Personal details
Walter Joseph Clayton III

(1966-07-11) July 11, 1966 (age 52)
Newport News, Virginia, U.S.
Political partyIndependent
Spouse(s)Gretchen Butler Clayton
EducationLafayette College
University of Pennsylvania (BS, JD)
University of Cambridge (BA,MA)

Walter Joseph "Jay" Clayton III (born July 11, 1966)[1] is an American attorney and Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.


Clayton was born at Fort Eustis in Newport News, Virginia.[2] He grew up near Hershey, Pennsylvania, where his father worked for the local chocolate company, and Wallingford, Pennsylvania. Clayton graduated from Strath Haven High School in 1984. After attending Lafayette College, where he was a member of the soccer team,[3] Clayton transferred and received his Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1988 (summa cum laude), and received the Thouron Award for post-graduate study in the United Kingdom. He received a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in economics from the University of Cambridge in 1990,[4] where he captained the University of Cambridge basketball team.[5] He earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1993 (cum laude and Order of the Coif).[2][6]


From 1993 to 1995, Clayton clerked for Judge Marvin Katz of the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.[7]

Clayton joined Sullivan & Cromwell in 1995 and became a partner in 2001.[8] At Sullivan & Cromwell, Clayton was a member of the firm's management committee and co-managing partner of the firm's General Practice Group.[2][9] He specialized in mergers and acquisitions transactions and capital markets offerings[7] and represented prominent Wall Street firms, including Goldman Sachs.[10] He served as an adviser to numerous companies regarding issues related to the SEC, Federal Reserve, Department of Justice, and other agencies.[11]

He has also helped multiple corporations raise money through initial public offerings, including Alibaba Group,[12] Ally Financial, Och-Ziff Capital Management, Oaktree Capital Management, Blackhawk Network Holdings, and Moelis & Company.[7] During the financial crisis of 2007–2008, Clayton advised Bear Stearns in its fire sale to JPMorgan Chase in 2007, Barclays Capital in the purchase of Lehman Brothers' assets following their bankruptcy, and Goldman Sachs in connection with the investment by Berkshire Hathaway.[6]

Clayton disclosed to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics that his clients had included Deutsche Bank, UBS, Volkswagen, SoftBank Group, The Weinstein Company, Pershing Square Capital Management, Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Ocwen's former head William Erbey, Paul Tudor Jones, and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman.[13]

Clayton earned $7.6 million in 2016 from his firm and has a family wealth of at least $50 million. His holdings included some investments in portfolios managed by Apollo Global Management, Bain Capital, J.C. Flowers & Co., and Richard C. Perry but he divested these investments upon confirmation.[13]

SEC Chairman[edit]

Nomination and confirmation[edit]

On January 4, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Clayton to be SEC Chairman.[14] Clayton's nomination was endorsed by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.[13] U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat representing Nevada, expressed concern that Clayton represented Swedish firm TeliaSonera in a proposed venture that would combine Russian telecommunications companies MegaFon and Altimo.[13] Clayton is not thought to have any ties to the Russian companies.[13] On April 4, 2017, the Senate Banking Committee voted 15-8 to take Clayton's nomination to the full Senate, with three Democrats voting in favor of Clayton.[15]

On May 2, 2017, the U.S. Senate voted 61-37 to confirm Clayton as Chairman of the SEC. Votes cast in favor of Clayton's confirmation included nine Democrats and one Independent alongside 51 Republican votes.[16] On May 4, 2017, Clayton was sworn in, marking the official beginning of his role as Chairman.[17]


In connection with the nomination of Clayton in January, President Trump said in a statement that "[w]e need to undo many regulations which have stifled investment in American businesses, and restore oversight of the financial industry in a way that does not harm American workers."[18] Upon Clayton's swearing-in, the SEC Commission consisted of Clayton; Michael Piwowar, who was serving as acting Chairman; and Kara Stein. Subsequently, Hester Peirce and Robert J. Jackson Jr. joined the Commission.

Chairman Clayton's initial agenda has focused on the long-term interests of America's retail investors.[2] Specific initiatives are aimed at making U.S. capital markets more accessible to businesses and investors while maintaining effective disclosure and other investor protections.[2] He has also focused on examining and addressing equity and fixed income market structure issues, leading the formation of the SEC's Fixed Income Market Structure Advisory Committee.[19] Clayton has expressed concern about the decline in the number of U.S. public companies and also has been outspoken on securities law issues related to distributed ledger technology, cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings. Some have predicted that he will look to encourage initial public offerings (IPOs) of companies and streamline the capital formation process by reducing the regulatory framework that applies to public companies in the United States.[17][20]

Professional memberships and activities[edit]

Clayton is a member of the American Bar Association, served as an Adjunct Professor at University of Pennsylvania Law School beginning in 2009, and was Chairman of the New York City Bar Committee on International Business Transactions beginning in 2010.[11] Prior to his confirmation, Clayton served on the Executive Committee of the Metropolitan Golf Association[21] and was formerly a board member of the Governor's Island Alliance.


Personal life[edit]

Clayton's wife Gretchen, whom he started dating while they attended the same Pennsylvania high school, worked at Goldman Sachs. At one point a small amount of her retirement assets (less than $1,001) was invested in an account managed by Omega Advisors.[13] Clayton's wife resigned from her job prior to his confirmation.[13]


  1. ^ https://www.geni.com/people/Jay-Clayton/6000000052755919902
  2. ^ a b c d e "SEC.gov | Jay Clayton". www.sec.gov. Retrieved 2018-03-31.
  3. ^ Scannell, Kara (February 7, 2017). "Wall St lawyer with skills honed by financial crisis heads to SEC". Financial Times.
  4. ^ "Jay Clayton Sworn in as Chairman of SEC". www.sec.gov. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
  5. ^ "Remarks at the Economic Club of New York (July 12, 2017)" (PDF).
  6. ^ a b Picker, Leslie (January 4, 2017). "Donald Trump Nominates Wall Street Lawyer to Head S.E.C." The New York Times.
  7. ^ a b c "Jay Clayton". Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. Archived from the original on 3 March 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  8. ^ "Hearing Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (March 23, 2017), page 58" (PDF).
  9. ^ "We Don't Need a Crisis to Act Unitedly Against Cyber Threats". Knowledge@Wharton. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
  10. ^ "Trump SEC pick assures that his Wall St. work not problem". AP News. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
  11. ^ a b "Jay Clayton - Sullivan & Cromwell LLP". www.chambers.com. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
  12. ^ Merle, Renae (January 4, 2017). "Trump to tap Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton to head SEC". Washington Post.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Protess, Ben; Goldstein, Matthew (9 March 2017). "Trump's S.E.C. Nominee Disclosure Offers Rare Glimpse of Clients and Conflicts". The New York Times. pp. A19. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  14. ^ Lovelace Jr., Berkeley (4 January 2017). "SECChairNom". CNBC. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  15. ^ "Negotiators reach a deal to fund the federal government but deny Trump several key priorities". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
  16. ^ "Senate Confirms Wall St Attorney Jay Clayton to Head SEC". The New York Times. 2017-05-02. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
  17. ^ a b "Clayton Sworn In As SEC Chairman". www.mondaq.com. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
  18. ^ "Jay Clayton, Wall Street lawyer, is Trump pick to lead SEC". CNNMoney. 2017-01-04. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
  19. ^ "SEC.gov | SEC Announces the Formation and First Members of Fixed Income Market Structure Advisory Committee". www.sec.gov. Retrieved 2018-03-31.
  20. ^ "Wall Street Lawyer Jay Clayton Confirmed as SEC Chair". Fortune. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
  21. ^ "Sullivan elected MGA President; Hagestad, Roberts honored at Annual Meeting". Metropolitan Golf Association Association. 2017-01-22. Retrieved 2018-03-31.
Political offices
Preceded by
Mary Jo White
Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission