You won't often hear me disagree with Arizona Republican Senator John McCain.
His exemplary record of service both in the military and in politics speaks for itself. And who among saner heads didn’t support his much-publicized campaign finance reform efforts?
But I dead-on disagree with his continual calls for Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Harvey Pitt to resign.
Never mind the fact that Pitt’s nomination as SEC chair was unanimously approved by the Senate. And that vote obviously included McCain. If my math is correct it also included Tom Daschle, D-S.D., another outspoken critic of Pitt and a "you can’t top me" walking advocate of accounting reform. For now, we’ll pass over the fact Daschle’s wife is one of Washington’s top revenue-generating lobbyists.
But my reasons for opposing Pitt’s resignation are two-fold.
For one it would be a major distraction from the real problem — curbing corporate fraud and implementing accounting reform.
For another, it would probably consume an inordinate amount of time to locate even a temporary successor to an already understaffed and overburdened agency not to mention what it would do to commission morale to see a change at the top so quickly.
True, Pitt had to recuse himself off as many as 20 ongoing SEC investigations citing prior relationships.
And his promise of a "kinder, gentler commission" in a speech before the AICPA probably has come back to bite him more than once.
But many of his detractors forget, conveniently or otherwise, that Pitt was the youngest-ever general counsel at the agency before he went into private practice, so he obviously possesses the ability.
And immediately after his appointment, there was Sept. 11, and a challenge to get the markets open, which he and others managed to do just six days after the attacks.
Pitt should not have to go on programs such as "Meet the Press" and defend his job as he did one week ago. Six months or even a year down the road, Pitt should be evaluated just like anyone else.
But for now, lawmakers should focus their energies on getting reform passed rather than passing judgment on reform.
Register or login for access to this item and much more
All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.
Community members receive:
- All recent and archived articles
- Conference offers and updates
- A full menu of enewsletter options
- Web seminars, white papers, ebooks
Already have an account? Log In
Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access