Business Groups Begin Quiet Campaign to Oust SEC's Donaldson

The Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors played a critical role in reelecting President Bush. Now the groups are part of a quiet effort to convince the President that it's time for a new Securities and Exchange Commission chair, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Believing the post-Enron reforms have led to a strangled business environment, in part because of the greater authority given to the SEC by the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate reform legislation. The Journal reported that the groups believe the reform effort has gone to far and threatens to hamper the economy by discouraging corporate risk taking.

They seek an SEC chair who understands the challenges faced by executives and their boards. They claim the current chairman, William Donaldson, does not understand their concerns.

Since Donaldson is a close friend of the Bush family and was appointed chairman two years ago by President Bush, efforts to oust him are expected to be quiet, the Journal reported, predicting his possible departure early next year.

While the groups are angling for a softening of the harsh regulatory and enforcement climate that was generated in the wake of corporate scandals, they understand there would be little public support for any backtracking of the progress made to clean up corporate America.

Thomas Donohue, the feisty president of the Chamber of Commerce, insisted to the Journal that he has "no idea about a campaign to get rid of Donaldson." But he has been the most public of the lobbyists in calling for change at the SEC. The Chamber has even sued the agency over its new rules requiring independent directors at mutual fund companies, the Journal reported.

"I am very anxious to find ways to get Congress, the press, the administration and the judicial system to focus on the implementation of Sarbanes-Oxley and the runaway system of corporate destruction being run by (New York Attorney General) Eliot Spitzer and the people who work at the SEC and the Justice Department," Donohue told the Journal. "It's time for all of us to take a look at what is being done."

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