House committee chairman threatens SEC chair with subpoena, but not over crypto

James Comer, chair of the United States House of Representatives Oversight and Accountability Committee, has threatened Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chair Gary Gensler with a subpoena. He wrote in the letter dated Oct. 12, that the committee will have “no choice” but to use compulsory measures to obtain documents if the SEC does not start cooperating with it.

Comer also expressed concern about SEC “actions taken to circumvent Congress to further an agenda that harms American taxpayers.” Cryptocurrency proponents in Congress have often complained about Gensler in similar terms, but this letter is not about crypto. Rather, Comer was writing about coordination with the European Union (EU) on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and climate-related issues, as well as SEC stonewalling.

Comer and Senator Tim Scott, who is now running in the Republican presidential primary, wrote to Gensler in June asking for information about United States’ cooperation with the EU on climate legislation that could impact U.S. companies. They sent a similar letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. In his latest letter, Comer said:

“To date, the SEC has not produced documents that are substantively responsive, and to date the overwhelming majority of documents produced have been publicly available on the SEC’s website, […] or documents that were already released pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.”

These words practically mirror Patrick McHenry’s letter of April 12, where he wrote, “The 232 pages of documents provided by your staff after the briefing are publicly available and not responsive to the request.” McHenry was writing about his information request relating to the prosecution of former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried. McHenry also threatened Gensler with a “compulsory process.” McHenry repeated that threat in person in a House Financial Services Committee hearing.

Related: Crypto-friendly Patrick McHenry takes interim House Speaker position

Crypto supporters will also hear echoes of themselves in Comer’s phrase “it is not clear that the law provides such authority and we must determine whether legislation is necessary.” In his first letter, Comer reminded Gensler of the Supreme Court’s West Virginia v. EPA ruling, which pertained to the major questions doctrine and could have an impact on the SEC’s activities in the crypto sphere as well.

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