Approval of Rep. Cox to Lead the SEC Spells Disaster for Investors

July 30, 2005

Approval of Rep. Cox to Lead the SEC Spells Disaster for Investors

Statement by Joan Claybrook, President, Public Citizen

The Senate’s approval late yesterday of U.S. Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Calif.) to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is a slap in the face to investors across the country and a clear signal to big business that fighting corporate fraud is not a priority of the Bush administration.

Despite his claims to the committee that he would vigorously enforce U.S. securities laws and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, passed in the wake of widespread corporate accounting fraud, Cox has a troubling history of favoring corporate interests over investors. During his more than 16 years as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Cox led the charge to make it more difficult for investors to seek redress for fraud.

Cox has consistently sided with big business over investors during votes on investor protection legislation such as Sarbanes-Oxley and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. On major legislation addressing corporate and accounting reform, investor legal rights and protection of retirement investments, he cast only one vote out of 22 in support of investors. Despite having seven chances, Cox did not cast a single pro-investor vote on retirement investment protection bills that moved through the U.S. House of Representatives after employees of a number of companies, including Enron, saw their retirement savings wiped out. He voted to ease conflict-of-interest standards for financial advisors; against giving employees a seat on the board of directors of their retirement plans; and against allowing employees to freely sell company stock held in their retirement plans.

The SEC was created to represent the interests of investors, not the interests of big corporations it oversees. Even after the revelations of widespread corporate fraud, Cox continued to vote against investor interests. His record should disqualify him from such an important post.

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To read the Public Citizen report, Rep. Christopher Cox: His Anti-Investor Record Should Disqualify Him From Leading the SECclick here.