Skip to content

Senator Baldwin Gets Job Done, Successfully Pushes SEC to Crack Down on Predatory Hedge Funds and Better Protect Main Street

New rule includes major provisions of Baldwin’s Brokaw Act, named for Wisconsin village that dissolved after predatory investors closed local paper mill

WISCONSIN – After years of advocating, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) is applauding the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) finalized rule that cracks down on predatory activist hedge funds and better protects Main Street economies. The new rule boosts oversight and brings more transparency to the private equity and hedge fund industry by cutting in half the amount of time that investors and hedge funds have to divulge large stakes in publicly traded companies. The change mirrors key provisions of Senator Baldwin’s Brokaw Act, legislation named after a small Wisconsin village that went bankrupt after an out-of-state activist hedge fund bought up the Wausau Paper Company and shuttered the community’s main employer, the Brokaw mill.

“As communities like Brokaw know all too well, when activist investors buy up companies just to turn a quick profit, hardworking Americans pay the price. These short-term gains for super wealthy investors can lead to devastating impacts for working families, taxpayers, retirement savers, and local communities, and I am proud to have been fighting them at every turn,” said Senator Baldwin. “I am glad to see that key provisions of my Brokaw Act are included in the SEC’s new rule to increase transparency and help protect Wisconsin’s Main Streets from predatory Wall Street practices.”

The new rule, the first of its kind in over 50 years, shortens the amount of time investors have to disclose their ownership stake of more than 5 percent from 10 days to five business days. This rule gives activist hedge funds less time to build up large covert stakes in public companies that allow them to threaten a company’s board of directors and management with removal if they don’t sign on to the fund’s short-sighted strategy.

The change follows a key part of Senator Baldwin’s Brokaw Act, named after the former village of Brokaw that dissolved in 2018 after the actions of a predatory investor led to the closure of a paper mill in 2012 that had provided good jobs to the town for over 100 years. Beginning in 2011, an activist hedge fund bought up the legendary Wausau Paper Company, forcing out its executives and demanding short-term returns like buybacks at the expense of investments in workers, R&D, and the company’s long-term future. 

When the rule was initially announced in February 2022, Senator Tammy Baldwin applauded the SEC’s plans to bring more transparency to financial markets and activist hedge funds with short-sighted investment strategies. In July 2022, Senator Baldwin led a group of senators in sending a letter to SEC Chair Gary Gensler to express support for the proposed rule.