SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt may not be the most or least ethical, or the most or least effective Bush administration appointee. But, man, if this dude ain't the most pitiful. Pitt's had a run of embarrassments over the last month or more. And this comes after a pretty mortifying year. But as you've likely already read, he outdid even himself this week.
The essence of it is this: Pitt decided to appoint former CIA Director and FBI Director William Webster to head a new accounting oversight board. But Webster headed the audit committee of a public company, U.S. Technologies, which was facing investor lawsuits alleging fraud.
You can't really blame Webster because he was calling Pitt and saying "Harvey, Harvey, you sure this is a good idea, considering the whole U.S. Technologies thing?" Pitt apparently told Webster not to worry, that he'd checked, and it was okay. (That's what Webster told the Times and the SEC doesn't dispute it.) But apparently he hadn't checked or even told anyone else at the SEC about it. Then Monday, after he'd gotten appointed, Webster caught word that the feds were opening a probe of the company. He phoned up Pitt again: "Harvey, Harvey ... " Well, you get the idea. Again Pitt didn't tell any of the other SEC Commissioners.
I mean, this isn't even really corrupt. It's just lame. The sort of stuff that eight-year-olds do.
Now the *#$%@ hit the fan. The Times has reported how Pitt kept key information from the other Commissioners at SEC. And he's had to order SEC Inspector General, Walter Stachnick, to investigate his own decision not to tell anybody else what was going on.
Would you like to be Walter Stachnick, considering there don't seem to be any facts actually in dispute? How fun will it be when this guy has to interview Pitt? All that seems left to investigate, after all, is whether Harvey Pitt could really be as big a moron as he seems to be.
What a plum assignment.