Bush Appoints Two SEC Commissioners, Calls For Reforms

President Bush has appointed two SEC Commissioners, one Republican and one Democrat. The newly-appointed Commissioners are Cynthia Glassman, a Republican and principal at Ernst & Young, and Isaac C. Hunt Jr., a Democrat who was appointed to the SEC by former President Clinton in 1996 and whose term recently expired.

Both Commissioners were appointed by the President under special authority that allows him to do so without ratification by Congress while Congress is not in session. The normal procedure is for SEC Commissioners to be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate – a procedure that no doubt would have been followed had the President waited one more day until the opening of the 107th Congress. Because the appointments of Commissioners Glassman and Hunt were made one day before that opening, they will be allowed to serve under the special authority provision until Congress recesses again at the end of the year.

Some speculate that President Bush took this controversial emergency action in response to a growing clamor for SEC Chairman Pitt to recuse himself from the Enron matter. That would have left the Commission without sufficient resources to make decisions on the matter, since Commissioner Hunt was serving under an expired term and the only remaining Commissioner, former Acting Chairman Laura Unger, had announced her resignation. Others see the appointments as indicative of a recent change in tone in which the President has called for government action to force greater corporate disclosure of financial information.

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