The Oversight Board unanimously appointed yesterday bankruptcy and corporate law professor, David A. Skeel, Jr. as chairman of the entity overseeing the finances of Puerto Rico, effective yesterday, October 6.
Skeel replaced José Carrión III, whose presidency ended yesterday. Bankers José Ramón González and Carlos García also resigned from the Board recently.
The four remaining members of the Board are Arthur J. González, Ana J. Matosantos, and Andrew Biggs.
“I am thankful to be designated for this role and continue the Fiscal Oversight Board’s mission for the good of the people of Puerto Rico,” Skeel said in written statements.
“It is an honor to keep working with my fellow Board members and Executive Director Natalie Jaresko in helping steer Puerto Rico’s fiscal and economic environment into a brighter future. José's shoes will be certainly impossible to fill, but I look forward to stepping into the role moving onwards.”
Skeel is the S. Samuel Arsht Professor of Corporate Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, a position he has held since 2004 after joining the university in 1999.
Between 1990 and 1998, Skeel taught at Temple University School of Law, where he was an associate professor from 1993 to 1998 and an assistant professor from 1990 to 1993. He also received a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a J.D. from the University of Virginia.
Former President Barack Obama appointed Skeel as Board member in 2016. Skeel and Andrew Biggs were recommended by current U.S. Senate leader Mitch McConnell. Matosantos was recommended by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and González by the Senate Democratic minority leader.
In 2016, Skeel Jr. was appointed by Chief Justice John Roberts as a member of the Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules. He was also a researcher at the European Corporate Governance Institute.
Omar Marrero, Executive Director of the Fiscal Agency & Financial Advisory Authority (FAFAA), was among the first officials to react to the appointment yesterday and stated on social media that “on behalf of the government of Puerto Rico, we welcome the new chairman of the Board, David Skeel. We are confident that we will continue to advance the fiscal and economic agenda of Puerto Rico, keeping the best interests of our people at the forefront.”
“He is a committed professional, an expert in bankruptcy and I will have no problem sitting with him and working for the good of Puerto Rico. I am going to defend the priorities of our people and make sure that his term ends and the Board leaves Puerto Rico as soon as possible,” said New Progressive Party (PNP) gubernatorial candidate Pedro Pierluisi.
For Juan Dalmau, candidate of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), Skeel is one of the Board members recommended by U.S. Republican Party politicians so he does not anticipate changes in terms of the vision of austerity that has prevailed in decisions made by the entity.
“Nothing says we should be optimistic. It’s the same dog, but with a different collar. It is still the same entity that seeks to hold the people accountable for the decisions of the PNP and the PPD,” said Dalmau.
By press time, the other candidates had not reacted to Skeel’s appointment as Board chairman.