As if the head of the SEC, Chris Cox, wasn’t having a bad enough day already, with John McCain calling for his ouster.
Former SEC commissioner and Cooley partner Roel Campos criticized Cox’s leadership at a panel discussion entitled “Inside the SEC.” The panel was a lively discussion with Cooley partner Nancy Wojtas interviewing Campos before an audience at the firm’s Palo headquarters on Thursday morning.
Campos said Cox should’ve been more visible throughout the recent financial crisis, to make sure the public understands that the SEC is working on the problems. “Your job is to restore confidence,” said Campos, who served as a commissioner under Cox for two years.
Campos also said that Cox never really had a vision for the agency or ever wanted to take on the controversial issues, saying that the SEC chief never asked the five-member commission to vote on an issue that wasn’t positively certain to get approval.
There was also a rather amusing audience member — Won-Gil Choe, president and CEO of Stanford Venture Group — who drew smiles with his questions. First he asked about taking foreign companies public in the United States, noting those companies’ fear of the SEC because of all the lawyers in the agency — and he asked, “How many lawyers are in the SEC?” Said Campos, to Choe’s apparent disappointment: “It’s a lawyer’s agency.”
Later the businessman asked the panel what he should do with shareholders who were upset over losing money on their investment in his companies. Choe explained, several times, that these agitated stockholders call him on the phone and say “You mother-f’er, you S.O.B., you lost my investment.” (That’s an exact quote, by the way — “mother effer.”) Choe asked whether there was anything he could do about the rude callers, like call the government or something? Campos gently broke the news to him. Unless the callers say they're going to "wait around the corner for you," you can't really sic The Man on them for bad phone manners.
So you heard it here first: It's not the activist shareholders who are the problem — it’s the effin' potty-mouths.
— Zusha Elinson