In yet another example of how politics are personal, the public is being put at risk by the head of the SEC failing to implement regulations meant to protect the public.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), watchdogstress of the too-big-to-fail giants who run our country on the backs of the 98%, sent a 13-page letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Mary Jo White on Tuesday, calling her out for failed promises and failing to protect investors and the public.
“I am disappointed that you have not been the strong leader that many hoped for – and that you promised to be,” Senator Warren wrote.
In a press release, Warren’s office summarized four main “disappointments” and failures:
Senator Warren’s letter highlighted four key areas where Chair White appears to have broken promises made to members of the Senate: the SEC’s failure to finalize rules requiring disclosure of the ratio of CEO pay to the median worker; its failure to curb the use of waivers for companies that violate securities law; the agency’s continued practice of settling the vast majority of cases without requiring meaningful admissions of guilt; and Chair White’s repeated recusals related to her prior employment and her husband’s current employment.
And there was another biggie — the failure to “address undisclosed corporate campaign contributions.”
Among several listed requests for more “information” about these failures, Senator Warren demanded an explanation for why the SEC removed campaign finance disclosure from its agenda.
White took the position of chair on April 20, 2013. The Democratic Senator has been so alarmed by White’s failure to regulate and thereby protect the public, that she met with White on May 21, 2015 according to her letter. At this meeting, Senator Warren reports she had little indication that White would be changing any of her practices in response to Warren’s concerns.
How is this country ever supposed to get back on track and recover from the disastrous Bush years if agency heads are allowed to play fast and loose with the law as it applies to big corporations?
Warren further charged “the agency’s rulemakings that have created large loopholes in Dodd-Frank disclosure rules”. Isn’t that comforting.
It gets worse.
“Even worse, at that same meeting, you provided me with what appeared to be misleading information about the timing of new CEO pay disclosure rules that was contradicted by an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) publication released that very same day.”
After Senator Warren reminded White that Warren’s questions and White’s answers were clear during the meeting, Warren wrote, “I am perplexed as to how and why you would have provided me with such misinformation.”
If Warren’s concerns are on target, and there is reason to suspect they are in spite of White’s statement accusing the Senator of “mischaracterizing” her words, investors and the public are being led down the same Hell path that stole their investments in the 2008 Bush crash. There is no excuse for a failure to protect the public in this way.
If White is doing her job as a regulator, she needs to pony up the proof. Claims are not enough. And why does she keep pushing back the delivery date for implementing new rules? That should be a priority, especially after the 2008 collapse. If bailing the banks out was an emergency, why not protecting the people – some six years later. They have waited long enough.
The public deserves hardcore evidence that they are not being screwed again in order to allow the big guys to profit on their backs.
Regulations are meant precisely for this reason – to protect the public from the greed and deception that often follows when the bottom line/profit margin is allowed to dictate rules. Of course many companies will choose to lie to the public. They did it before and they will do it again because it makes them money.
The public has subsidized corporate misdeed and greed for far too long. The crash of 2008 wiped out their savings and retirement accounts, no matter the diligence they performed when investing because they were lied to by companies that were not being watched over (aka, regulated). The public can have no confidence in investing, which ultimately – ironically – hurts the very companies that make their profits by deceiving the public.
This is a dire warning from Senator Warren. Watch your backs, people.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.