Roel Campos, one of the two Democrats on the five-member Securities and Exchange Commission, announced plans to return to the private sector next month, further tipping the balance on the panel as the SEC continues to issue and enforce regulations affecting accountants.

The former Houston radio company executive and prosecutor was heavily involved in designing rules for enforcing the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the year he was appointed to the commission. He was the first prosecutor and first Hispanic ever appointed to the panel, and he helped with enforcement programs to restore investor confidence in the wake of the Enron and WorldCom accounting scandals.

Campos had pushed for corporate proxy reform, along with greater financial disclosure and better efforts at corporate governance. The future of a proposal to give shareholders greater access to the corporate proxy is in doubt with his departure. However, the SEC recently approved the new Auditing Standard No. 5, AS5, under his watch, providing a risk-based approach to audits designed to make the process more efficient (see SEC Approves New Audit Standard).

In other Washington news this past week, President Bush spoke out against a hike in the federal gasoline tax to repair bridges, but said he would consider a simplification in the corporate tax code (see Bush Considers Corporate Tax Simplification). The House also approved a $16-billion energy tax bill that eliminates a manufacturing tax deduction for major companies' domestic oil production and shifts incentives toward alternative energy (see House Approves $16B Energy Tax Bill).

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