Chris Cox’s Extreme Agenda

The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, championed by Chris Cox, ended up bad. But if Cox had his way it would have been even worse. From a 2/7/95 AP story:

Attorneys and accountants who complain they’re sued too often for fraud have found a supporter in Rep. Chris Cox, a former securities lawyer whose own work has been criticized in a class-action lawsuit.

Cox, a California Republican, is sponsoring legislation that could drastically curtail such lawsuits against attorneys in the future.

The proposal, a plank in the GOP “Contract With America,” comes as lawyers representing investors stung in a $ 121 million failed investment say they’re considering whether to add him as a defendant in their suit.

The bill being pushed by Cox would prohibit investors injured by securities fraud from suing lawyers and accountants who advocated the deal unless they can prove the lawyers purposely assisted the fraud.

In other words, Cox’s preferred version would have completely protected lawyers and accountants who enable corporate cheats unless plaintiffs could prove they came in with the specific intention to assist fraud. That’s like saying an tire manufacturer is only liable for a car rollover if they produced the tire with the specific intention to roll the car over. Cox wanted almost complete protection for unethical corporate accountants and lawyers.