From The Congressional Record, March 8, 1820, p. 42, Proceedings of the United States Senate
Presiding Officer: The chair will recognize the distinguished senator from Kentucky, Micah McConnell.
Sen. McConnell: Thank you, Senator. I wish to spend a few moments on the issue which is most momentous to my constituents and which requires the intervention of this body and our brothers in the House. I mean, of course, the War on Wood.
I realize that I am the only person on earth crazy enough to read and get angry about WAPO editorials — usually quietly. But today’s lead editorial is simply nonsensical and needs a response, even if only read by a few.
The Post attacks the President for not being sufficiently high-minded in defending the proposed Iran nuclear deal when he suggests that opponents offer no alternative but war and are the same folks who got us into Iraq. Incredibly, WAPO lectures Obama for defending the treaty by suggesting that “support for the deal is an obvious call and that nearly anyone who suggests otherwise is motivated by politics or ideology.” For shame, Mr. President, says WAPO editorial page editor Fred Hiatt. (In fairness, WAPO is mildly in favor of the Iran deal. But in its typical way, wants to remain high-minded in the midst of a mud fight.)
Most of the highlights of my 25-year career as a trial attorney at the Securities and Exchange Commission involve the half dozen or more insider trading cases I tried before juries. I was lead counsel in the very first jury trial the SEC ever brought – an insider trading case in Seattle in 1989. I prevailed on behalf of the SEC in every one of my insider trading trials.
I wish I could say these victories achieved something important for securities enforcement. I doubt that they did. Those cases tried against other than true corporate insiders were largely a waste of government (and my) time. As were the far more numerous such cases which settled without trial, sometimes for substantial sums by any standard, and sometimes by such small sums they were substantial only to the middle class sap who acted on a stock tip and had the misfortune to be persecuted by the SEC.
(Kidney was a trial attorney at the SEC for 25 years. He retired in March 2015.)
Under the headline “Wall Street’s Top Cop Takes Harder Line; SEC has more than doubled the typical fine against individuals over the past decade,” The Wall Street Journal gave Mary Jo White, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the director of its Division of Enforcement, Andrew Ceresney, a bouquet. The statistical roses were a result of “an analysis by The Wall Street Journalof the 4,443 penalties imposed by the SEC since October 2004.” (WSJ, July 13, 2015). But the statistics actually produced small beer rather than roses. The Journal identified median fines on individuals through the first six months of the 2015 fiscal year (which runs Oct. 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015) as rising to a level 66 percent higher than median fines in 2005 – two years before the fiscal crash. Even so, the median fine on an individual was only $122,500. But the median fine paid by firms “has fallen sharply over the past decade,” The Journal reported. In the six months through March, half of SEC fines on firms were below $200,000, down from $600,000 in the 2005 fiscal year, according to The Journal’s survey.