As Cox Takes More Heat, a Bizarro World Blast From the Past

Cox-coxmask.jpgThe hits keep coming for embattled Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox, the former local congressman (R-Newport Beach). Amid the Bernard L. Madoff scandal, Cox last week publicly blamed his staff for not vigorously investigating complaints against the fraudster. Today, we hear from...

Wayne State State Law School professor Peter J. Henning, in the New York Times: "I always thought the whole idea of leadership was that 'the buck stops here,' which means the chairman takes the blame when something goes awry and does not blame his underlings. Instead, what we have is a lesson in how not to run an agency charged with protecting investors."

Boston Globe editorial: "Cox will be out of a job soon, but the damage done by his laissez-faire agency will ripple through the economy long after he's gone."

Miami Herald editorial: "Apparently, it took a gigantic swindle like the pyramid scheme allegedly run by Bernard Madoff to get SEC Chairman Christopher Cox to admit that the Securities and Exchange Commission has fallen down on the job. Trouble is, Mr. Cox himself has been instrumental in turning Wall Street's watchdog into a meek lapdog."

Toldeo Blade editorial: "Mr. Cox's furious finger-pointing at lower-level SEC employees he claims failed to detect Mr. Madoff's humongous Ponzi scheme is validation of what we wrote in this space in June, 2005, when Mr. Cox, a former Republican congressman from California, was appointed to his job by President Bush.

"To reprise, we averred that Mr. Cox 'could very well prove to be another in a series of determined predators sent forth from the great white den at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to keep a hungry eye on Wall Street coops.'"


Youngstown Vindicator (Ohio) editorial: "The best thing that can be said about the Securities and Exchange Commission under the leadership of Chairman Christopher Cox is that the agency responsible for protecting U.S. investors will soon be under new management."

Yeeee-ouch!

But the photo illustration here comes from the March/April 2007 edition of The American magazine, which argued 1 1/2 years into Cox's tenure that the Bush appointee was defying lowered expectations.

Cox has taken a methodical, consensus-driven approach to the SEC's work, seeking to forge unanimous 5-0 voting blocs within the commission. Last summer, 12 months into the Cox regime, AFL-CIO associate counsel Damon Silvers told Dow Jones News Service: "While he hasn't done everything I would do, he's done pretty well." David Yermack, a finance professor at New York University's Stern School of Business, says, "I really had low expectations for Cox," but he's been "a pleasant surprise.... He's really embraced the shareholder reform agenda." Now, Yermack thinks that Cox--whom he once deemed "a Republican tool of business"--should be considered for Treasury secretary.

Book that Yermack character on the next train to Crazy Town.
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