SEC commissioner Allison Lee departs, readying financial regulator for Jaime Lizárraga

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Allison Herren Lee, one of five members of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s board, has officially left the regulatory body after more than three years as a commissioner.

In a Friday announcement, chair Gary Gensler and commissioners Hester Peirce, Mark Uyeda, and Caroline Crenshaw said Lee had left the SEC, where in 2005 she started as a staff attorney at the agency’s enforcement division at a regional office in Denver. She moved on to be appointed a commissioner in 2019 under the former presidential administration, and later served as acting chair to the regulatory body for three months, until Gensler’s confirmation in April 2021.

“Commissioner Lee has been a stalwart advocate for strong and stable markets, including by emphasizing the need for market participants to maintain the highest ethical standards,” said the remaining commissioners in a joint statement.

Lee first announced her departure from the SEC in March, with President Joe Biden in April nominating her replacement, Jaime Lizárraga, a staffer for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Senate confirmed Lizárraga’s nomination on June 16 for a term at the SEC ending on June 5, 2027.

During her time at the SEC, Lee said the commission needed to “evolve with changing technologies” in reference to crypto regulation, adding that the government body should maintain its principles. Lizárraga has largely made few if any public statements on crypto and blockchain. The Pelosi staffer was in government as lawmakers prepared legislation to handle the financial crisis of 2008, and was part of efforts behind the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.

Related: SEC doubles down on crypto regulation by expanding unit

The SEC, along with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, handles digital asset regulation in the United States, but with different jurisdictional claims, resulting in a patchwork approach that crypto firms must navigate to operate. It’s unclear what impact the departure of Lee and the addition of Lizárraga will potentially have on the regulation and enforcement of the crypto space.