Thursday, June 02, 2005

They've Done It Again

The SEC – The Securities and Exchange Commission – the government agency responsible for supervising the giant corporations, keeping them from ripping us off. The previous head of the SEC resigned (was forced out) to spend time with his family (because he occasionally tried to enforce the law). Bush has named his successor, and as is Bush's wont, he’s named a sycophant who has a proven track record of siding with unethical corporations over the little guy. Think Progress is doing a good job of tracking how truly terrible this Chris Cox fella is going to be for this country. I’ll reprint a few of their points:

In 1995, Cox “sponsored the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, which restricted the ability of investors to sue for securities fraud.” He sponsored the bill the same year he was sued for “misleading regulators and investors about the condition of a real estate investment fund” in the 1980s. The charges against Cox personally were dropped after his law firm settled for an undisclosed amount. Cox said the experience caused him “to sympathize with people who are victimized in these suits.” That sympathetic group includes people who lie to investors, regulators and the public.

[Chris Cox] was the primary sponsor of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. That law helped set the stage for Enron and others to hide their fraudulent accounting practices. Moreover, it helped shield these corporations from liability once the fraud is exposed.

The bill being pushed by Cox would prohibit investors injured by securities fraud from suing lawyers and accountants who advocated the deal unless they can prove the lawyers purposely assisted the fraud. In other words, Cox’s preferred version would have completely protected lawyers and accountants who enable corporate cheats unless plaintiffs could prove they came in with the specific intention to assist fraud. That’s like saying an tire manufacturer is only liable for a car rollover if they produced the tire with the specific intention to roll the car over. Cox wanted almost complete protection for unethical corporate accountants and lawyers.

Cox quote: “It is a legal torture chamber for plaintiffs and defendants alike, more suitable to the pages of Charles Dickens’ `Bleak House’ than a nation dedicated to equal justice under law. The current system of private securities litigations is an outrage and a disgrace.”
In case I wasn’t clear, he’s going to be heading the agency that protects us from corporate malfeasance. Protects us. This guy thinks that it’s wrong to sit in judgment of Enron because, hell, everybody’s got flaws, baby. Who are we to judge? Enron and WorldCom were little salamanders compared to the dinosaur he’s poised to unleash.

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