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Obama Picks SEC, Transport Chiefs

President-elect Barack Obama intends to name a former Securities and Exchange Commissioner, Mary Schapiro, to head the much-criticized financial regulator, Democratic officials CBS News confirmed Wednesday.

Democratic sources also said Obama would name Republican Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois as transportation secretary.

Schapiro, who currently heads a nongovernment regulatory group for securities firms has been appointed to government posts by two Republicans presidents and one Democratic chief executive.

If confirmed, she would take over an agency that has been criticized for failing to detect signs of trouble on Wall Street, where enormous losses by banks have contributed heavily to the current financial crisis.

Mr. Obama was expected to make her appointment official Wednesday.

It was not clear when the president-elect intended to formally announce his selection of LaHood, who would be the second Republican to serve in Mr. Obama's cabinet.

The other is Defense Secretary Robert Gates, whom Mr. Obama asked to remain in office.

The officials who described the selections did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss personnel matters not yet made public.

Earlier Wednesday, Mr. Obama named former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary and Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado to head the Interior Department.

They, like LaHood and Schapiro, will require Senate confirmation before they can take their positions in the new administration.

Additionally, officials disclosed that Dr. Gail Russeau, a Chicago neurosurgeon, is a leading contender to become surgeon general.

Two decades ago, President Ronald Reagan named Shapiro commissioner of the SEC. She was reappointed by President George H.W. Bush and then named acting chair by President Bill Clinton.

Clinton also tapped her as head of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, a regulatory agency.

LaHood, 63, is stepping down from his House seat after 14 years representing the area around Peoria.

Mr. Obama has yet to announce choices for the Labor Department, senior intelligence positions or the Office of U.S. Trade Representative. Rep. Xavier Becerra, had been penciled in as trade representative, but he announced on Tuesday he intends to remain in the House.

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