SEC Faces Controversial Agenda, Possible Turn Over

The Securities and Exchange Commission's make up could change now that the election is over and proponents of some reform measures are hoping to see their agendas through the process before there are changes, the Washington Post reported.

Among the most controversial items pending before the SEC is a year-old proposal that would give unhappy shareholders more authority to nominate candidates to sit on corporate boards, in some cases.

While such high-power lobby groups as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable, as well as the Bush administration, have been fiercely opposed to the plan, the SEC has received thousands of letters in favor, the Post reported.

SEC Chairman William H. Donaldson said last month that he still is trying to broker a workable compromise plan within the agency. But he also has said publicly that he will not cave in to pressure from interest groups that want him to proceed on an "artificial timetable," the Post reported.

One of the proposal's biggest supporters is SEC commissioner Harvey J. Goldschmid, a Democrat. His term expired months ago and he is expected back to the Columbia University law school by August 2005. He is a tenured professor at the university and no one expects him to give up his tenure to stay on the commission.

"It's absolutely critical for us to get it done before [Goldschmid] leaves, because he's been the voice of reason," Patricia K. Macht, a spokeswoman for the California Public Employees' Retirement System, which supports the director-nomination proposal, told the Post. "I couldn't think of any rational reason why this issue should be strung out for another 12 months, or even another nine months."

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