President Obama has tapped Sharon Y. Bowen, a partner with the Washington, DC, law firm of Latham & Watkins LLP, to succeed Commissioner Bart Chilton at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

Bowen, who has been a partner in the law firm since 1991, had been rumored to succeed Chilton, a Democrat who has been a commissioner since 2007. Chilton, a major proponent of speculative position limits, in early November announced that he was leaving since the proposed rule on  position limits was finally "out the door” (seeDaily GPI, Nov. 5).

Bowen’s nomination has drawn fire because of her limited experience in the derivatives, futures and commodities markets. Prior to Latham & Watkins, she was an associate at David Polk & Wardwell  LLP. She has a BA from the University of Virginia, a law degree from Northwestern University School of Law and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management.

When the Senate returns after the holidays, it is expected to take up the nominations of Bowen, Timothy Massad, Obama's nomination for chairman of the CFTC, and Christopher Giancarlo, a Republican who has been nominated to succeed Jill Sommers, who left the CFTC in July.

Commissioner Mark P. Wetjen, who is probably the youngest member of the CFTC, will  serve as interim chairman during the changing of the guard -- from the termination of current Chairman Gary Gensler’s term to the Senate's confirmation of Massud. Massad is a Treasury Department official who was heavily involved in the federal bank bailout program (see Daily GPI, Nov. 12). Giancarlo is an executive vice president of the brokerage firm GFI Group Inc. (see Daily GPI, Aug. 7).

Under Gensler's term, the CFTC has gone from a blip on the regulatory radar screen to an agency with worldwide prominence as it has reined in speculation in the commodity derivatives and futures markets. Gensler, who has been chairman since May 2009, spearheaded the agency’s drive to put rules in place under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, passed by the Congress following the economic collapse of 2008.