SEC Appoints William D. Duhnke III to Chair PCAOB

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Dec 13, 2017

The Securities and Exchange Commission has appointed William D. Duhnke III, currently the staff director and general counsel for the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, to chair the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), replacing outgoing chair James Doty. He previously served as Staff Director and General Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations. Prior to joining the Senate staff, Mr. Duhnke served in the U.S. Navy and the Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces. He received a J.D. from Catholic University and a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin.

Duhnke had been reported to be current SEC Chair Jay Clayton's favorite to head the agency, and had been on the short list of candidates as far back as 2015. His appointment could signal a shift in priorities for the PCAOB, as he is generally seen as sharing Clayton's skepticism toward government regulation. Doty had promoted several efforts that put him in conflict with corporate entities, such as mandatory auditor rotation (which was ultimately defeated after Republican opposition) and audit partner identification (which ultimately passed, albeit in a somewhat altered form). 

Beyond serving as a staffer with the Senate Rules Committee, he has also served as a staffer for the Senate Banking Committee,  the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Appropriations Committee. He was also a figure in the 2015 trial involving the leak of classified intelligence regarding Iran, with court testimony saying that he declined to cooperate with the FBI investigation into the matter. He also appeared in a matter involving the CIA decision to destroy tapes of the agency's harsh interrogation methods, according to the New York Times. He backed the assertion that the then-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts, did not approve the decision to destroy the tapes, though noted that the decision was not unwelcome either. Duhnke said that he had originally proposed placing a committee staff member who was a trained interrogator at the CIA's secret overseas prisons to observe the interrogations, something that the CIA twice refused. While the CIA eventually did allow Senate staff to learn about the interrogation program, none were permitted to observe questioning. 

Duhnke is not the only new addition to the PCAOB. The SEC has also appointed four new board members to replace the outgoing Jeanette Franzel, Louis Ferguson, and Steven Harris, whose terms end this year. They are: 

* J. Robert Brown, a law professor at University of Denver who is the director of the school's Corporate and Commercial Law program; 

* Kathleen M. Hamm, currently the Global Leader of Securities and Fintech Solutions and Senior Strategic Advisor on Cyber Solutions at Promontory Financial Group; 

* James G. Kaiser, a PwC partner who is currently the firm's Global Assurance Methodology and Transformation Leader; and 

* Duane M. DesParte, soon to retire as Senior Vice President and Corporate Controller of Exelon Corporation, and a former Deloitte and Touche audit partner. 

"Bill, Jay, Kathleen, Jim, and Duane bring substantial experience to the Board and a shared commitment to serve in the interests of our Main Street investors," said SEC Chairman Jay Clayton. "Their individual and collective talents position the PCAOB to execute its mission effectively in our local, national, and international markets."

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