Three Former SEC Commissioners Urge Mary Jo White to Stop Protecting Corporate Cronyism via Inaction on Disclosure of Political Spending

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If you still harbored any doubt that SEC Chairman Mary Jo White sees a major part of her job as defending the rich and powerful, the letter below should end it. Three former SEC commissioners, two of them ex-chairmen, wrote White to urge her to move forward on rulemaking to require public companies to disclose their political spending. During the comment period, this issue elicited 1.2 million letters, a remarkable level (see here for more background on the effort to get this rule implemented). Yet White continues to stonewalling on an issue of great public interest and importance.

I urge you to read the letter in full. It’s short and well done. From its close:

The Commission’s inaction is inexplicable. Its failure to act offends not only us, who are alumni of this agency struggling to retain our deep pride of association, but investors and the professionals who serve them. And it flies in the face of the primary mission of the Commission, which has since 1934 been the protection of investors. To use a metaphor, mandatory disclosure of corporate political activities should be a “slam dunk” for the Commission



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  1. Abigail Caplovitz Field

    Dear Messrs. Donaldson and Levitt, and Ms. Longstreth:

    Thank you for joining in current commissioner Kara Stein’s plain speaking path. Any other effort you can engage in to reclaim the soul of the SEC would be much appreciated.

    Abigail Caplovitz Field

    on another note, I take the fact of this letter not simply as additional proof of White’s abandonment of the public interest, but as a sign of the growing isolation of those in power–none of these signatories is a firebrand reformer. For the three to publicly split with the Commission is a real marker of how bad things have become.

    1. James Levy

      The insider/outsider dichotomy is reaching stupendous proportions. Anyone who walks away from the revolving door doesn’t take long, I think, to start getting the big picture. Many of those will stay silent in hopes of once more riding the gravy train, but a growing few are starting to say enough is enough.

  2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Um let’s not forget who appointed her, as I recall it was a certain one-term state Senator whose name (very fittingly) includes the word “bomb”

  3. saltaire

    Adding my thanks and appreciation to the three wise men whose compass is so well guided by humanity’s most noble virtues of fairness and respect for one another.

    This would no longer be America if we allow those who would take us back to the dark, medieval ages to go unchallenged.

  4. Reverend Jeff

    And so continues the long tradition of Wall Street sock puppets suddenly finding ethics after being retired from regulatory duties.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Arthur Levitt got attacked regularly by Joe Lieberman, the Senator from Hedgistan, over wanting much tougher regulations for individual investors. Levitt was on the wrong side of the credit default swaps issue and has admitted that, unlike everyone else. And at the SEC, he was in no position to buck the more powerful Fed and Treasury who were leading that fight.

      The proof that Levitt was not a Wall Street toady was that he did not get on boards after he left the SEC. You’d expect him to be on at least 5 prominent financial services company boards. The only one that would have him was Bloomberg, which is NOT a financial services provider but an information service where knowing the SEC does bupkis for its business.

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