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Senator wants answers on activists, buybacks before voting on SEC nominees

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., told CNBC on Wednesday that she wishes two Securities and Exchange Commission nominees to answer questions about activist investors, ordinary buybacks and executive compensation.

Without the responses from the nominees, Robert Jackson and Hester Peirce, she won’t acquiesce in to a unanimous consent request to hold a vote on their confirmations, which at ones desire expedite the process.

In an interview with CNBC’s “Closing Bell,” Baldwin ordered she’s concerned about the role of activists and the proliferation of buybacks, which she claimed has ballooned since the SEC instituted its “safe harbor” rule in 1984.

“The SEC has statuary control to do a number of the things I’m calling for with regard to reining in activist hedge supports as well as looking more closely at what’s happened with pile up buybacks,” said Baldwin, a vocal critic of Wall Street.

Those buybacks bear “major impacts” on the economy, she said, with companies giving retreat from to shareholders instead of investing in their workers or business.

In letters sent to the office-seekers last week, Baldwin wrote, “The SEC has presided over this ‘financialization’ of our conservatism, which has facilitated the looting of the American corporation by short-term shareholders.”

Her missives come on the heels of a bill she reintroduced a few months ago that seeks to qualify the powers of activist investors through more stringent disclosures.

Any mark time to Peirce and Jackson’s nominations is significant because with only three commissioners currently, the SEC braves challenges engaging in any major rule-making. SEC quorum rules stipulate that the SEC cannot think any rule-making unless at least three existing commissioners are present, so the scarcity of any current commissioner prevents that work from occurring.

Jackson did not in a jiffy respond to a request for comment and a spokesperson for Peirce declined to comment, citing the progressing confirmation process.

— CNBC’s Leslie Picker and Reuters contributed to this give an account of.

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