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Futures industry nabs former government regulator as new leader

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In the latest example of a former financial regulator finding employment in the industry, the Futures Industry Association (FIA) has announced that its new president will be a former leader at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

Walter Lukken was nominated to the commission by former President George W. Bush and chaired the agency's global markets advisory committee while there. From 2007-2008, when the financial crisis was at its height, he served as its acting chairman. Lukken resigned when President Obama took office in 2009.

In his current role as chief executive officer for New York Portfolio Clearing, he participated in a November general meeting at the CFTC on rulemaking timelines, "with a particular focus on clearing requirements, the definition of swap execution facility, and trading requirements."

Lukken is not currently registered as a federal lobbyist. In the past he has supported Republican candidates with campaign contributions, including Bush and Sen. Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind. (In an earlier job, he served as counsel to the Senate Agriculture Committee, working under Lugar.) Sunlight Foundation's Influence Explorer shows that he has made one contribution to a Democrat: Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., last June.

Representatives of the FIA, a trade association representing the futures industry, have attended numerous meetings with federal financial agencies about the implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial law, most of them at the CFTC, according to the Sunlight Foundation's Dodd-Frank tracker. The group has reported spending more than $500,000 on lobbying since 2010.

"His regulatory and legislative experience and leadership skills will be a tremendous asset as this industry engages in the far-reaching structural reforms mandated by Dodd-Frank and similar laws around the world," said outgoing FIA head John Damgard in a statement.

Dennis Kelleher, president of Better Markets, which advocates for transparency in financial markets, took a dimmer view of Lukken's hire. "This is merely the latest example of what has become a routine, but pernicious practice. Regulators are supposed to be concerned with doing what is right and in the public interest," Kelleher said. "However, government jobs too often have become little more than job interviews for the highest bidder once they leave office.  There is just no sense of shame any more when former regulators sell out the public for big Wall Street bucks.”