Watchdog Finds Well-Oiled Revolving Door Linking SEC and Industry

Former Securities and Exchange Commission employees routinely helped companies overseen by the regulator to influence rulemaking, soften enforcement actions, and secure exemptions from federal law, according to a report that will be released Monday by the Project On Government Oversight.

POGO – an independent watchdog group – studied disclosure statements filed from 2001 through 2010 and said it found numerous instances where the line between regulator and industry was blurred.

Over that period, 419 former SEC employees filed 1,949 disclosure statements, indicating their intent to contact the SEC on behalf of an employer or client.

Among the most blatant examples of a revolving door between the SEC and regulated companies, POGO found a former SEC manager helped companies such as JPMorgan, UnitedHealth Group, Yahoo! and Alaska Air to block proposals from shareholders. When the manager was at the SEC, he served as deputy director in the division that reviewed these proposals.

In another case, an enforcement branch chief in the SEC’s San Francisco office left the agency in 2010 to take a job as Wells Fargo & Co.’s in-house counsel. Less than two weeks later, she filed six separate disclosure statements, indicating she would be representing Wells Fargo in connection with pending enforcement matters, including probes conducted by her former office.

POGO’s database of disclosure statements is available here.

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