‘Fox guarding the henhouse’

Matt Taibbi on Mary Jo White, new head of the SEC:

I was shocked when I heard that Mary Jo White, a former U.S. Attorney and a partner for the white-shoe Wall Street defense firm Debevoise and Plimpton, had been named the new head of the SEC.

I thought to myself: Couldn’t they have found someone who wasn’t a key figure in one of the most notorious scandals to hit the SEC in the past two decades? And couldn’t they have found someone who isn’t a perfect symbol of the revolving-door culture under which regulators go soft on suspected Wall Street criminals, knowing they have million-dollar jobs waiting for them at hotshot defense firms as long as they play nice with the banks while still in office?

I’ll leave it to others to chronicle the other highlights and lowlights of Mary Jo White’s career, and focus only on the one incident I know very well: her role inĀ the squelching of then-SEC investigator Gary Aguirre’s investigation into an insider trading incident involving future Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack. While representing Morgan Stanley at Debevoise and Plimpton, White played a key role in this inexcusable episode.

Meanwhile, no matter what she does, Obama will collect liberal cred for appointing a “tough” prosecutor. God, liberals are dumb. You really think Obama’s about to start prosecuting these people?

7 Responses to ‘Fox guarding the henhouse’

  1. snuzy mandrake January 26, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    wow, taibbi really misses the mark on this one. if she was the lawyer for morgan stanley, then her job was to try to get that company off. it doesn’t say anything about how she would act as the head of the SEC. her long history as a prosecutor is a lot better indication of what kind of cases she might bring for the SEC, than the fact that she was a good advocate for her clients in get private practice. at best, all that says about her is that she wasn’t so anti-morgan stanley that she would be willing to turn them away. but i doubt there are many lawyers who would.

  2. willf January 26, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    wow, taibbi really misses the mark on this one.

    Ummm, no. Past performance is actually a good indicator of future actions. In this case, the nominee is one from a long line of revolving door servants of the elite who probably won’t even make it the full term of office before cashing out for some cushy job in some firm she was just “regulating”.

    Happy to be wrong, of course, but after having read the article, I’m going with Taibbi and Suze on this.

  3. upyernoz January 26, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

    Past performance is actually a good indicator of future actions.

    I agree. but that’s why her past performance as US Attorney for the SDNY is a good indicator of what she will do with the SEC. her time in private practice, when her job was to be a hired gun rather than looking out for the public interest, is less analogous to what she will be doing as SEC head.

  4. imhotep January 26, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    Obama is a Capitalist. The economy still sucks and the 1% has $4 trillion dollars sitting around. So let’s now talk about FDR and the first SEC chairman (1934) Joe Kennedy. FDR met Kennedy during WWI. FDR was the Asst. Sect. of the Navy and Joe was the GM of Bethlehem Steel. FDR considered Kennedy a moneymaking scoundrel and did not trust him. That made Kennedy the perfect guy for the SEC in FDR’s eyes. Wall Street didn’t trust FDR. But they did trust a fellow crook like Kennedy. FDR wanted to kick start the economy 5 years after the 1929 crash. Joe told his Wall Street pals, “Do business as usual.” Substitute the name Mary Jo White for Joe Kennedy in the above story. Remember Obama is a Capitalist and so was FDR. If ‘you’ keep supporting the Capitalist economic system this game will be played endlessly.

  5. mjames January 26, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

    Glad at least Taibbi recognizes the truth about Mary Jo White. She is a nightmare. Always has been (she wouldn’t have been chosen otherwise). And her husband is a partner at Cravath Swaine. Those are the circles within which she travels.

    And there are many, many lawyers who would not represent Morgan Stanley. Please. We are not all corporate apologists.

  6. snuzy mandrake January 26, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    hey, i’m a lawyer too!

    and while there are certainly many lawyers who aren’t interested in going into an area of the law where they might represent morgan stanley (myself included), if someone is in private practice specializing in criminal defense, they’re not going to turn down a client because the client is morgan stanley. i don’t blame a former u.s. attorney going into criminal defense (that’s a good place for people with criminal experience to go).

    it’s overly simplistic to blame lawyers for the clients they represent. and also unnecessary in this case, as MJW has a really substantial (and high-profile) record of how she used her discretion as a government attorney.

  7. jawbone January 27, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    Again, let us hope. Let us hope that Mary Jo will be a strong defender of the law and the populace, not the Powers That Be.

    Time –and her actions– will tell.

    As with Obama’s second inaugural speech.

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