February 26, 2014

The Congressional “Drag” on the SEC

With news of Rep. John Dingell announcing yesterday that he was retiring – the longest-serving Congressman in history – it brought back memories of “Dingell-grams.” In the ’90s, as head of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Dingell would regularly send letters to the SEC asking for all kinds of information. This was a significant drain on senior SEC Staff resources.

At the time, I thought how crazy this was. Little did I know that – fast-forwarding two decades later – that Congressional requests to the SEC would increase by a factor of at least 3 or 4. It’s no longer just the heads of the Senate Banking & House Financial Service Committees that are interacting with the SEC – it’s nearly every member of those committees and their staff.

I’m not saying the SEC should be free from oversight. But many of the requests are “for show” – just like many Congressional hearings are – and the questions presented are made with minimal knowledge of the subject matter. It’s a shame and it’s a real problem because some experienced practitioners who might otherwise take a pay cut to serve our country working for the agency take a pass. They understandably don’t want to get caught up in the political maelstrom that permeates the halls of federal agencies these days. And those stuck working in the federal government spend a lot of time catering to Congress rather than focusing on their core mission…

What The? Exclusive Preview of Warren Buffett’s Annual Letter to Shareholders?

When I first saw the title of this Fortune article, I thought Warren Buffett’s popular letter to shareholders was now publicly available (and on it’s way to being furnished to the SEC, it is not “filed”). But I was surprised to see that the article was based on an “exclusive excerpt from his upcoming shareholder letter.” The article is general investment advice and not about Berkshire Hathaway – so I have no securities law concerns – it’s just so unusual to see a “special sneak” preview of a letter from the CEO…

Webcast: “The SEC Staff on M&A”

Tune in today for the webcast – “The SEC Staff on M&A” – to hear Michele Anderson, Chief of the SEC’s Office of Mergers and Acquisitions, and former senior SEC Staffers Brian Breheny of Skadden Arps, Dennis Garris of Alston & Bird and Jim Moloney of Gibson Dunn discuss the latest rulemakings and interpretations from the SEC.

– Broc Romanek