Champion of the People, Victim of the Right

After years of feckless leadership by Harvey Pitt, the Securities and Exchange Commission finally found a chairman worthy of the title: William Donaldson. Unfortunately, Donaldson quickly earned the ire of corporate America for being “a tougher regulator than expected.” It wasn’t supposed to be like that. He was a long time Bush family friend. He was a former Wall Street executive. And he was suddenly fighting for the wrong guy. Under Donaldson, the SEC has “turned the corner as far as letting people know we’re going to have integrity in the capital markets and accounting.”

Protecting the consumer? Holding corporate America accountable to the people? That type of activity certainly wasn’t popular with the right-wingers. Thus a coordinated campaign was begun:

A whisper campaign began that claimed Donaldson is engaged in “Stalinist planning.”

Several major industry groups — including the Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributor — became “part of a quiet effort to convince the president that it’s time for a new Securities and Exchange Commission chair.”

In describing the implementation of Sarbanes-Oxley, the president of the Chamber of Commerce called it a “runaway system of corporate destruction being run by [New York Attorney General] Eliot Spitzer and the people who work at the SEC.”

All the while, other unscrupulous members of the business community launched an under-the-radar campaign to roll the reforms back.

Sadly…it seems they won.