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Agriculture News As It Happens


CFTC’s Chilton to depart as rules near completion


Bart Chilton
Commodity Futures Trading Commission Commissioner Bart Chilton announced Tuesday that he will soon depart the agency.

Chilton made the announcement at a meeting to consider the rewrite of a rule on position limits under the Dodd-Frank financial services reform act. The commission voted 3-1 to adopt the rule, but it will be subject to comments and another vote before becoming final.

“For two reasons, this is a significant day for me," Chilton said in his opening statement. “I am reminded of that great Etta James song, ‘At Last.’”

“The first reason is that, at last, we are considering what I believe to be the signal rule of my tenure here at the commission; I’ve been working on speculative position limits since 2008,” he continued.

“The second reason today is noteworthy is that this will be my last Dodd-Frank meeting. Early this morning, I sent a letter to the president expressing my intent to leave the agency in the near future. I’ve waited until now — today — to get this proposed rule out the door, and now — at last — with the process coming nearly full circle, I can leave. It’s with incredible excitement and enthusiasm that I look forward to being able to move on to other endeavors.”

Chilton noted he has seen the need for speculation limits in the 2008 financial crisis and urged Congress to include it in the Dodd-Frank law.

Noting that the courts threw out the first position limits rule, Chilton said “Thankfully, we have it right in the text before us. The commission staff has ultimately done an admirable job of devising a proposed regulation that should be unassailable in court, good for markets and good for consumers.”

An Indiana native, Chilton had a long career on Capitol Hill, including work for then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.

He also was a close adviser to Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman during the Clinton administration and was a National Farmers Union official.

Known for his shock of silver-blond hair, Chilton been popular with reporters for his frequent irreverent comments, and he was the subject of appreciative profiles in The New York Times and The Washington Post today.

His departure came as a surprise, especially since CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler is scheduled to leave the commission at the end of the year.

Chilton’s term expired in April but legally he could stay until the end of 2014; his departure is a signal that the White House intends to nominate someone else for the position. Chilton did not announce future plans, but said he has purchased a home in Arkansas and has commuted from there to Washington.

Treasury Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Timothy Massad, who has overseen the wind-down of the 2008 bank bailout law, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, is a candidate to replace Gensler, and Latham & Watkins partner Sharon Bowen is under consideration for Chilton’s seat, Politico reported today.

Once Gensler and Chilton both leave, only Republican Scott O’Malia and Democrat Mark Wetjen would remain on the five-member commission. Republican Commissioner Jill Sommers resigned in July. President Barack Obama nominated J. Christopher Giancarlo to succeed her, but the Senate has yet to confirm him.