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Morning Consult: Root Out This Rot: Special Interests in Attorneys General Offices

Patomak Senior Advisor Luther Strange opines, “Just as there is no free lunch in life, there’s no free legal support under this NYU scheme. Instead, these lawyers are paid for, and subject to influence by, special interests to pursue specific policy goals.

In fact, under the agreements in question the State AG office must regularly report back to the NYU Center on the activities of the SAAG and must “collaborate” with the Center on public announcements relating to environmental issues the SAAG worked on. This arrangement exposes the heart of the problem. The NYU scheme allows climate activists to carry out their agenda under the authority of state governments, with zero transparency into who is paying for what.”

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Opinion, In the NewsIanthe Zabel
Barrons: ESG Investing Suffers a Setback in California

Barron’s reporter Vito Raccanelli writes

“A funny thing happened recently in the left-leaning Golden State. In a board election last month, members of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or Calpers, the biggest pension fund in the nation, threw out their president and gave ESG investing a bloody nose…

“It’s too early to tell if this election will have ramifications beyond Calpers,” says Paul Atkins, CEO of Patomak Global Partners and a Republican SEC commissioner from 2002 to 2008. “But a lot of funds are already using ESG, and investors don’t know to what extent they are using it.”

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In the NewsIanthe Zabel
WSJ: California Public Employees Vote Against Pension-Fund Activism

By Paul Atkins

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System this month said no thank you to pension-fund activism. Government workers unseated Priya Mathur, the sitting Calpers president. She was defeated by Jason Perez, a police-union official who criticized Ms. Mathur’s focus on environmental, social and governance investing, or ESG. Mr. Perez emphasizes the agency’s fiduciary duty to maximize investor returns.

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Opinion, In the NewsIanthe Zabel
Bloomberg Law: House Lawmakers Plan Bill to Preempt State Crypto Regulation

House lawmakers are drafting legislation to preempt some aspects of state licensing and regulation of the virtual currency industry in a bid to help U.S.-based crypto exchanges and blockchain companies remain competitive in a global market.

“We have 50 states here, and those states have many different people who have interests in securities markets,” Paul Atkins, a former commissioner at the Securities and Exchange Commission who now leads the financial services consulting group Patomak Global Partners LLC, said during a panel.

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In the NewsIanthe Zabel
RealClearMarkets: Why Judges Aren't Buying Cities' Climate Change Lawsuits

Patomak Senior Adviser Luther Strange opines in RealClearMarkets:

Climate change is a serious issue that impacts every person, deserving a serious public-policy debate through our democratic process… Lawsuits will not develop sound public policy, and they will certainly not halt climate change. And the reality that two federal judges have now dismissed city climate cases should send a strong message to other local leaders: the courts are not the proper place to make climate policy.

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Forbes: Token Alliance: Utility Tokens 'Under Threat Of Extinction By Regulation' In U.S.

Forbes contributor Aaron Staley writes: “…An overly expansive interpretation and application of the Howey Test could threaten the utility of blockchain technology and could stifle innovation,” states a new report from the Token Alliance, a coalition led by the Chamber of Digital Commerce - the U.S. blockchain and digital asset trade group...

“These industry-developed principles are an important tool for responsible growth and smart regulation that strikes the right balance between protecting investors while allowing for innovation in this new technological frontier,” said Paul Atkins, CEO of Patomak Global Partners and a former SEC commissioner.

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Coindesk: A Blueprint for Reforming the Crypto Token Market

Chairman of the Advisory Board for CoinDesk, Michael Casey writes:

“…if digital tokens are to matter and if they are to enable networks of distributed trust, the industry needs to advance to adulthood…

…As such, it is encouraging to see proactive efforts to promote best practices. The latest such effort comes from the Token Alliance, an industry initiative of the Digital Chamber of Commerce that comprises 350 global industry participants, including blockchain and token experts, technologists, economists, former regulators, and practitioners from over 20 law firms.

On Monday, the Alliance will release its first white paper, one that aims to bring two important constituencies – industry leaders and regulators – into alignment around the appropriate business and legal treatment of digital token issuances.

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P&I commentary: Public pension funds must not divest from reality

Paul Atkins writes in an opinion piece exclusive to Pensions & Investments:

“Pension funds must invest long-term to meet the anticipated needs of retirees. Every dollar counts, and long-term growth is essential, especially because markets do not always go up. Managing other people's money is not a trivial pursuit — it demands prudence, patience and perception, not political gamesmanship. “

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P&I: Wary investors applauding SEC call to examine stock buybacks

Pensions & Investments reporter Hazel Bradford writes:

…Former SEC commissioner Paul Atkins, CEO of Patomak Global Partners LLC, a Washington financial consulting firm, said that post-tax reform, companies are supporting economic growth in several ways, such as distributing cash through buybacks to shareholders, including those in and saving for retirement. "Buybacks are a basic function of capital markets that drive reinvestment. Share buybacks benefit those very shareholders, seniors and the broader economy," Mr. Atkins said.

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WSJ commentary: Leave Broker Disclosures to the SEC

By Paul S. Atkins and Gregory F. Jacob

The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Labor Department have both asserted the authority to regulate investment brokers. The two of us—a former SEC commissioner and a former labor solicitor—have a word of advice for Labor concerning its recent efforts to adopt new rules on broker conflicts of interest: It’s time to pass the baton.

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Bloomberg: Short-Term Senator Strange Returns to Washington to Help Banks

Former U.S. Senator Luther Strange, who lost a Republican primary race in Alabama last year despite the backing of President Donald Trump, is returning to Washington to advise financial firms.

Strange is joining Patomak Global Partners, a regulatory consulting firm with close ties to the Trump administration. The ex-prosecutor spent a year in the Senate after he was appointed
to the seat vacated when Jeff Sessions became U.S. attorney general.

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In the NewsIanthe Zabel
MarketWatch: Volcker, Angelides in opposition on regulatory rollback

By Frances McKenna

The Senate is expected to approve this week the most significant reversal of regulatory requirements for financial services firms since the financial crisis, including a significant retrenchment of the heightened scrutiny for banks with less than $250 billion in assets that was implemented by the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010...

Paul Atkins, chief executive of Patomak Global Partners, LLC...told an audience of international bankers at a conference in Washington on Monday that rather than what was being characterized by critics and in the press as a wholesale upheaval of Dodd-Frank regulation, the proposal was a 'refinement' of an 'absurdly low threshold' for bank regulatory scrutiny.

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Morning Consult: Choose Investors Over Special Interests

Opinion by Paul Atkins

Just as Washington is becoming more investor-friendly, some politicians are going back to fighting in favor of well-connected special interests over Mr. and Mrs. 401(k). The latest example: A policy rider (let's call it what it is - an earmark) attached to an appropriations bill that would prevent a long-overdue effort to save retirees and investors more than $300 million a year by modernizing how mutual fund reports are delivered to shareholders.

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Washington Examiner: What to expect from the Jerome Powell era at the Federal Reserve

Jerome Powell won’t run the Federal Reserve too differently than Janet Yellen would have. But, because he is not her and was not President Barack Obama’s nominee, he will start a four-year term as Fed chairman Monday while she begins as a think tanker at the Brookings Institution.

...The Powell era, however, will include another key Trump appointee, Randal Quarles, serving as the vice chairman for supervision, a position with oversight of regulatory affairs that was never filled under Obama.

Quarles, a former private equity investor and George W. Bush Treasury official, is likely to push for changes to several key features of the post-crisis rules, said Paul Atkins, chief executive of the financial services consultancy Patomak Global Partners, including new capital requirements for banks, internationally coordinated rules, and the Volcker Rule.

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In the NewsIanthe Zabel
Ignites: Hold the Phone: SEC Makes Case for Mobile Fund Reports

By Jill Gregorie

Investors in the age of mobile are tired of relying on Gutenberg-era fund communications, according to the SEC’s investment management unit head...

“We’re in the 21st century. It’s about time that mutual fund investors can access information in a way that is meaningful to them, rather than being married to the 1930s construct of paper delivery and disclosure,” says Paul Atkins, CEO of Patomak Global Partners, who served as an SEC commissioner between 2002 and 2008.

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In the NewsIanthe Zabel
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