Congressman Oxley to Retire in 2006

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Representative Michael Oxley, the Ohio Republican and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee said Tuesday that he will retire from Congress at the end of his term. Co-sponsor of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, Oxley has served since 2001 as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees banking, securities and insurance matters, the Associated Press reports. The Financial Services Committee conducted the House investigation of Enron Corporation.

Rep. Oxley and Senator Paul Sarbanes wrote the legislation, which called for greater accountability for corporate boards and executives and tough accounting rules. “I think that will be first and foremost in my obituary,” Oxley said, according to the AP.

A leading factor in his decision to retire, Oxley said, was that he would have to step down as chairman of the Financial Services Committee in 2007 because of term limits.

Treasury Secretary John Snow and former Commerce Secretary Don Evans said Oxley's leadership was critical in challenging economic times, the AP said. Snow commented that the “law shored up investors in the face of events that shook their confidence.”

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Compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley has proved demanding and expensive for many companies, particularly small businesses, MarketWatch reports, and the SEC has extended compliance deadlines for some businesses.

Oxley acknowledged criticisms of the law in a recent panel discussion, according to “I think it's a legitimate criticism of the act and especially 404, that it's a one-size fits-all solution.” Addressing the problems of small business with the provision, he said, “It would be a shame if the law were to force these folks to go private and deny them access to capital they need to grow.”

Oxley said further that he thought it would be a long time before Congress revisits the legislation but recommended that the Securities and Exchange Commission adopt a more flexible approach to implementation, according to the New York Law Journal.

Rep. Oxley, along with Rep. Richard Baker of Louisiana, sponsored a bill creating a new regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that passed in the House on October 26. Baker is a possible successor to Oxley as chairman of the Financial Services Committee, MarketWatch reports.

A former special agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation and attorney in private practice according to Reuters, Oxley did not say what he planned to do when he leaves the Congress.

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