Heath Tarbert steps down as CFTC chair, will stay on as commissioner

Heath Tarbert, the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), said Thursday that he is stepping down as head of the agency.

Tarbert, the CFTC said Thursday, will continue serving as one of the agency's five commissioners. His term lasts until April 2024. Tarbert had previously indicated his plans to step down as chairman, as reported in December.

In a statement, Tarbert cited U.S. President Joe Biden's ascent to office as a motivating factor.

“It has been the highlight of my professional career to serve the American people as this agency’s 14th Chairman and Chief Executive," Tarbert said. "It is bittersweet to step down from a role that I have enjoyed so much, but it is important to clear the way for President Biden’s selection of a permanent chair. The peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of the American system of self-government, and I am proud of our efforts to uphold that tradition here at the CFTC."

Tarbert notably stated in 2019 that it was "[his] view as chairman of the CFTC that ether is a commodity," a declaration that earned plaudits from the crypto industry. Under Tarbert, the CFTC has devoted sources to both crypto-related enforcement as well as regulatory guidance for related activities.

Reuters reported Thursday that academic Chris Brummer has emerged as a leading candidate to take the top spot at the CFTC. Brummer notably edited a book on digital assets that was published in 2019.