Warren said Duhnke’s removal was “absolutely the right move” and signaled that she would push for a bigger shakeup.
“Our auditing process needs to be independent and with integrity,” she said in a Twitter post. “Let’s replace the other members with people who live up to the agency’s mission.”
The SEC, which is led by three Democratic commissioners and two Republican commissioners, did not provide a breakdown of the votes it took Thursday. But the agency’s GOP commissioners on Friday rebuked the decision to remove Duhnke, who before being appointed to lead the PCAOB in 2017 served as longtime aide to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).
In a joint statement, Republican SEC Commissioners Hester Peirce and Elad Roisman — who also served as aides to Shelby — said they had concerns about “the hasty and truncated decision-making process underlying this action.” They said it set a “troubling precedent for the commission’s ongoing oversight of the PCAOB and for the appointment process.”
“Although the commission has the authority to remove PCAOB members from their posts without cause, in all of our actions, we should act with fair process, fully-informed deliberation, and equanimity, none of which characterized the commission’s actions here,” they said. “Instead the commission has proceeded in an unprecedented manner that is unmoored from any practical standard that could be meaningfully applied in the future.”
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Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, said it amounted to a politicization of the PCAOB and that “I will be holding Mr. Gensler accountable for this decision.”
“Chairman Gensler appears to be treating the PCAOB like a political football beholden to a left-wing Democrat Commission that panders to progressives like Elizabeth Warren,” McHenry said. “If this is the case, it’s unclear why the PCAOB should continue to exist as a separate entity from the SEC going forward.”
Gensler said in a statement that the PCAOB “has an opportunity to live up to Congress’s vision in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act,” the 2002 law that established the board.
“I look forward to working with my fellow commissioners, Acting Chair DesParte and the staff of the PCAOB to set it on a path to better protect investors by ensuring that public company audits are informative, accurate and independent,” Gensler said.
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