Christopher Cox
Chairman, SEC




Most Corrupt Bush Appointees: Christopher Cox


Unique qualifications of former Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach, CA) to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission:

  • Wrote the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, a 1995 law which made it harder for investors to take corporate swindlers to court. Passed over President Clinton's veto, the law has been blamed for allowing some of the nation's worst financial scandals--including those at Enron and WorldCom--to proceed unchecked, by letting "corporate executives off the hook for exactly the kind of utterly misleading statements Enron Chief Executive Kenneth Lay made to keep his company's stock price artificially high," Jamie Court wrote in the Los Angeles Times.¹ "Indeed, Cox --who President Bush tapped as the best possible choice to be Wall Street's top cop--is the poster child for how laissez faire, country club Republicanism took trillions out of the pockets of Americans."

  • As a congressman, Cox voted repeatedly in the interests of "Wall Street investment houses to undermine conflict-of-interest standards protecting investors and pension plans. He has voted against post-Enron proposals that would require executives to certify financial statements, strip bonuses from CEOs who falsify statements, and stop stock analysts from holding shares in the companies they cover, (although he did ultimately vote for the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate reform bill when it became a fait accompli)," Court wrote.

  • Cox's congressional campaigns collected over $250,000 from the securities and investment industry he now regulates. WorldCom was the 10th biggest contributor to Cox in 2002, the year that auditors revealed the company's fraud. WorldCom Chief Executive Bernard Ebbers was found guilty of deceiving investors in an $11-billion accounting fraud.

  • Cox's coziness with corporate crime predates his time in Congress, Court reported. As a private securities attorney in the mid-1980s, Cox worked for William Cooper and his company, First Pension Corp. Cooper was accused of running Ponzi scheme, convicted of fraud and imprisoned. After Cooper was caught, Cox, then a congressman, claimed he had not known his client was a fraud. Nevertheless, Cox was sued by investors for what they said was his role in misleading regulators on Cooper's behalf. Cox's law firm settled the case.

    ¹Jamie Court, Los Angeles Times, July 25, 2005

    © 2005 Los Angeles Times

    "Most Corrupt Appointees" describes appointees shown on Most, not a ranking


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