For SEC brass, long commutes show dedication to jobs

You think you have a long commute?

It’s probably safe to say that some of the top brass at the SEC have it tougher – traveling 226 miles one way to their homes in New York at the end of the work week, and then back again. All on Amtrak.

Mary Jo White, chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg). Mary Jo White, chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

SEC Chairman Mary Jo White does it, generally heading out Fridays to reunite with her husband John, a partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York. After all, he made the same trek for her nearly a decade ago, during his stint as head of the agency’s corporate finance unit. Back then, she was the big law firm partner, working at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York.

Andrew Ceresney does it, too. He grew up in Brooklyn, and spent 34 of his 42 years living there. Getting hired as chief of the SEC’s enforcement division nearly a year ago won’t change that. “I live there now with my family – my wife and two kids,” Ceresney said in a recent interview. “Washington is a great city, but I’m a New Yorker through and through.”

George Canellos did the commute for more than a year, most recently as co-director of the SEC’s enforcement unit. During that time, Canellos twice renegotiated the length of his stay at the agency with his wife, who lives in New York with their 20-month-old daughter.

Taxpayers don’t foot the bill for the travel – or the D.C. rent. The regulators pay both of those out of pocket. By contrast, members of Congress get an annual allotment that they can use to regularly travel back home, which counts as part of their official duties.

The SEC has a long tradition of hiring its division heads from New York, the capital of capital markets, and requiring them to live in Washington. Hence the weekend commute to the Big Apple.

But at least it’s hassle-free. The agency is connected to Union Station.

Dina ElBoghdady covers housing policy for The Washington Post.

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