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Clock Runs Out on DOL Appeal to Supreme Court on Fiduciary Rule

June 14, 2018

The Department of Labor has missed the deadline to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on a previous court’s decision to vacate the agency’s fiduciary rule, Wealthmanagement.com writes.

The DOL had until the end of the day Wednesday to petition the Supreme Court on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ April decision vacating the rule, which purports to require retirement account advisors to put clients’ interest first and went only into partial effect last summer, the web publication writes.

In May, the DOL missed the deadline to file for a rehearing in the Fifth Circuit, and the court then denied a bid to save the rule from three state attorneys general. The DOL missing the deadline to appeal to the Supreme Court likely ends the years-long saga of the Obama-era rule, according to Wealthmanagement.com.

Meanwhile, American Oversight, a nonpartisan government watchdog, says the Department of Labor has been less than forthcoming with providing requested documents on its process rolling back the fiduciary rule and overtime regulations, Law360.com writes.

Last July, American Oversight — which is comprised of lawyers from President Barack Obama’s administration — had first requested documents on overtime regulations and the DOL’s fiduciary rule.

In October, the group sued the DOL to obtain records about the agency’s process in rolling back the fiduciary rule and regulations on overtime. In that suit, American Oversight claimed the DOL had missed the 20-day deadline put on requests for information by the Freedom of Information Act. In March, an appeals court vacated the fiduciary rule.

In its most recent joint status report, the group says the DOL has made “some progress” providing records on its decision-making, but added that concerns remain about the pace of the release of information as well as its consistency, according to Law360.com.

American Oversight had asked for information regarding agency meetings, lists of attendees, and correspondence in and out of the DOL regarding the rule, the legal news website writes. While the agency has provided some records, it has withheld others claiming FOIA exemptions, and hasn’t processed all the requests, American Oversight claims in its latest status report cited by Law360.com.

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In its portion of the status report, the DOL says it will respond to requests for records from several divisions within the next few months, according to the website. The agency also says its Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy will turn over records on the fiduciary rule soon, Law360.com writes. But American Oversight executive director Austin Evers says in a statement cited by the website that the agency is “delaying the release of records showing what outside interests influenced” the rollback of the rules.

DOL representatives didn’t respond to Law360.com’s requests for comment.

By Alex Padalka
  • To read the Wealth Management article cited in this story, click here.
  • To read the Law360 article cited in this story, click here.