Harvey Pitt, a prominent corporate lawyer, has been chosen as the next chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, replacing Arthur Levitt, the longest-serving chairman in the SEC's history.
Mr. Pitt, 56, served as general counsel to the SEC under President Jimmy Carter. Senate confirmation hearings will begin as soon as the White House formally announces the selection of Mr. Pitt.
Among Mr. Pitt's clients are the American Institute of CPAs, the Securities Industry Association, and the Investment Company Institute. Last year, Mr. Pitt was instrumental in negotiating with the SEC regarding its proposals to limit auditor independence by preventing accountants from engaging in consulting services. As a result of his work, accounting firms performing audits may engage in certain consulting services as long as the fees for those services are set out separately in notes to the company's financial statements.
Speaking of Mr. Pitt, Harvey J. Goldschmid, former general counsel of the SEC under the Clinton administration said, "He has great talent and experience." Joel Seligman, dean of the Washington University School of Law and co-author of a leading treatise on securities law, said, "He's considered one of the very, very best practicing lawyers in the field," and described Mr. Pitt as a "great choice."
John C. Coffee, Jr., an expert on securities regulation at the Columbia Law School, was quoted in an article in the New York Times as saying, "He will not push the envelope on certain issues like Arthur Levitt did. But he will be an aggressive enforcer."