Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers claims he has knowledge that some Senators, who are remaining unnamed, are attempting to use government spending legislation to thwart the SEC proposal to issue auditor independence guidelines. Claiming the integrity of American financial markets is at stake, Summers argued that the SEC should be allowed to go ahead with its deliberative process.
SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt, last week, presented members of the Senate Banking Committee with his plan to limit the scope of services that can be performed by auditors. Levitt was to meet with select members of the Senate this week to present his ammunition secretly and off the record.
Meanwhile, 21 senators have signed a letter indicating their desire to not rush the auditor independence guidelines through the system this fall, claiming Levitt is trying to accomplish this task before the current Congress adjourns (and before, presumably, Levitt is out of a job).
Senators have suggested that members of the Big Five accounting firms, who would be most affected by the guidelines, should attempt to reach a compromise with the SEC rather than involving Congress.