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Ex-SEC commissioner, fiduciary critic to lead Michael Milken think tank

A former SEC member who emerged as a sharp critic of many rules imposed on Wall Street after the 2008 credit crisis is joining the Washington-based Milken Institute Center for Financial Markets.

Michael Piwowar, a Republican who left the SEC in July, said in an interview that he plans to focus on bolstering capital formation and financial technology at the center, which is part of the Milken Institute, a Santa Monica, California-based think tank that was founded by former Wall Street financier Michael Milken. Piwowar said housing and financial policy will also be part of his work at Milken, which is best known for events like its annual Global Conference.

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Michael Piwowar, commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, speaks during a panel session at the Bloomberg Africa Business And Economic Summit in Cape Town, South Africa, on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. Weaker demand from China and a slump in commodity prices have damped the outlook for economic growth in most African countries. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Michael Piwowar

An economist, Piwowar worked at the White House, in Congress and as a professor at Iowa State University before being appointed to the SEC in 2013 by President Barack Obama. He said he will draw on all of that experience in his new role.

“Part of it is an educational role as a former academic,” Piwowar said, “For me it’s just sort of a natural extension.”

As an SEC commissioner, Piwowar criticized policies that kept less-wealthy investors from buying certain assets, disclosure requirements that he said favored special interests, and fines imposed on companies in enforcement actions. During a stint as acting chairman at the start of the Trump administration, he laid the groundwork for revamping financial industry rules and started a review of agency staff’s powers to act without commissioners’ approval.