You have no idea how much I enjoyed writing that title, which refers to current Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox. See, back when I was a reporter in Orange County, California, Cox served as a U.S. Congressman representing the extremely affluent and conservative people of Newport Beach, so I learned first-hand just what the bubble-headed Republican pretty boy was capable of. And believe me, no one laughed harder (except maybe my former colleague R. Scott Moxley) when, in June 2005, President Bush nominated Cox to be head of the SEC, which–at least on paper–is responsible for protecting our nation’s investors from fraud and abuse.
Seriously, take a moment to read this, Cox’s official SEC biography. You don’t have to get very far before you come across this sentence, clearly written by someone who could not care less about facts or reality: “During his tenure at the SEC, Chairman Cox has made vigorous enforcement of the securities laws the agency’s top priority, bringing ground breaking cases against a variety of market abuses including hedge fund insider trading, stock options backdating, fraud aimed at senior citizens, municipal securities fraud, and securities scams on the Internet.”
Now do your best to reconcile that stunning bravado with this New York Times story in which Cox himself admits that his agency brazenly ignored a decades’ worth of warnings that Bernard Madoff‘s ostensibly successful and charitable hedge fund was, in fact, nothing more than a massive, obscenely illegal Ponzi scheme. “I am gravely concerned by the apparent multiple failures over at least a decade to thoroughly investigate these allegations or at any point to seek formal authority to pursue them,” Cox says in the story.
A few months ago, when the big Wall Street firms were going bust and begging for taxpayer bailouts, even John McCain wanted Cox fired, and that was before most people had ever heard about Madoff. Of course, Bush would no more bring the hammer down on Cox than he would chop off his own, well, you get the idea.
Bush and Cox just go together perfectly (and I mean that in every sense of the words). In Bush’s screw-the-people world view, who else but pro-business Cox, who took much of his campaign contributions when in Congress from corporate lawyers and securities and investment firms, could handle the office designed to regulate those very same lawyers and firms? When you hold as much contempt for public institutions as George W. Bush, there is no better Wall Street “regulator” than Christopher Cox.