Business columns: The SEC has a porn problem

One senior SEC attorney looked at porn eight hours a day, burning the files to CDs and DVDs when he ran out of hard drive space, said Tobin Harshaw in The New York Times.

Tobin Harshaw

The New York Times

“You can’t make this stuff up,” said Tobin Harshaw. It turns out that while Wall Street was in “full panic” in the fall of 2008, senior officials of the Securities and Exchange Commission weren’t watching the markets. They were watching porn.

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According to the SEC’s inspector general, 17 “senior-level employees,” some earning as much as $222,418 a year, were caught up in the porn sweep and disciplined. One senior SEC attorney looked at porn eight hours a day, burning the files to CDs and DVDs when he ran out of hard drive space. Another employee used Google to bypass the SEC’s Internet filter and gaze at “very graphic” images.

The revelations—which have been documented on the inspector general’s website since 2008 but drew little notice until last week—are complicating President Obama’s push to strengthen regulation of Wall Street. How can he slap down the bankers knowing that “while they were busy leveraging our entire society,” the SEC’s “A-number-one enforcement team was surfing for smut”?

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