Trump Eying Top Aide to Sen. Hatch for Lead EBSA Role

The future head of EBSA would play a substantial role in the fate of the fiduciary rule.

President Donald Trump has announced his intent to nominate Preston Rutledge as head or assistant secretary of labor for the Department of Labor (DOL)’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), according to an official release from the White House.

If appointed, he could heavily influence what happens to the DOL’s conflict of interest rule. The announcement comes on the same day a bill to repeal the fiduciary rule passed the House Financial Services Commission. That bill also aims to erase the impartial conduct standards of the rule which underwent implementation in June.  

The fiduciary rule is scheduled for complete implementation on January 1, 2018. However, EBSA has proposed to delay the rule and its accompanying exemptions until July 1, 2019. This could give the DOL more time to conduct its review of the rule under direction of President Trump.  

Rutledge currently serves as senior tax and benefits counsel on the Majority Tax Staff of the Senate Finance Committee, and as top aide to Sen. Orin Hatch of Utah.  

Prior to joining the Finance Committee, Rutledge had served as a senior technical reviewer in the Qualified Pension Plans Branch of the IRS Office of Chief Counsel. He has also worked in private law practice as an employee benefits counselor and ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) litigator.  

Rutledge played a role in designing retirement legislation sponsored by Sen. Hatch, including The Retirement Enhancement Savings Act (RESA), which some analysts say may provide language that could offer plan sponsors more fiduciary protection in offering in-plan lifetime income options. 

Rutledge earned a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Idaho, and a J.D. from the George Washington University School of Law. 

Previous head of EBSA, Phyllis Borzi, was instrumental in birthing the rule under the previous Administration.