As Mary Schapiro, Barack Obama's nominee to lead the SEC, heads to Capitol Hill to face Senate confirmation hearings today, questions linger about her light touch with big Wall Street firms. A seasoned regulator, Schapiro nevertheless spent much of last year cracking down on small brokerages and minor players, reports the Wall Street Journal, even as the mortgage storm howled and Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme went undetected.
Schapiro headed up regulatory agency Finra, which saw enforcement fines dwindle during her tenure. "If I had to assign blame, I'd blame Finra and the SEC, but I'd blame Finra first because it's the first line of defense," says a former NASD examiner. Others beg to differ, citing hefty fines she levied during the tech-stock bubble—"She has been an advocate for investor protection," says one investor rep.