After Bernard L. Madoff’s giant Ponzi scheme was revealed, the Securities and Exchange Commission went to great lengths to make sure that none of its employees working on the case posed a conflict of interest, barring anyone who had accepted gifts or attended a Madoff wedding.
But as a new report made clear on Tuesday, one top official received a pass: David M. Becker, the S.E.C.’s general counsel, who went on to recommend how the scheme’s victims would be compensated, despite his family’s $2 million inheritance from a Madoff account.
Mr. Becker’s actions were referred by H. David Kotz, the inspector general of the S.E.C., to the Justice Department, on the advice of the Office of Government Ethics, which oversees the ethics of the executive branch of government.
The report by Mr. Kotz provides fresh details about the weakness of the agency’s ethics office and reveals that none of its commissioners, except for Mary L. Schapiro, its chairwoman, had been advised of Mr. Becker’s conflict.
It says Ms. Schapiro agreed with a decision to keep Mr. Becker from testifying before Congress, where he would have disclosed his financial interest in the Madoff account.This is simply not acceptable. And, it's not unique, certainly not to Mary Schapiro.
Columbia Journalism Review has even more background. This all gives a certain degree of credibility to Ron Suskind's new book. Either Obama is incompetent for listening to others' advice in his financial oversight picks, or we're gathering yet more evidence that he personally is that much in bed with Wall Street. Take your pick.
And, folks, let's be honest. A fair amount of this didn't start with Obama.
But, it didn't start with Bush, either.
Predatory lending, if not necessarily in the venue of subprime loans? It got a bit of start under H.W. Bush and accelerated under Clinton. An overview of the background is here.
Both parties do it. They have for years. And until you stop voting for Democrats as well as Republicans, they'll still do it. Certainly, at a minimum, until we have national public financing of Congressional elections.