IG's Report: SEC Staff Accessed Porn on Government PCs

Lora Bentley

A Securities and Exchange Commission Inspector General's report released Thursday reveals several "senior staffers" have used government computers to access and download pornography in the past three years. Compiled at the request of Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the report summarizes investigations into the activity of 33 different employees.

 

According to The Washington Post, an SEC attorney admitted he "sometimes spent as much as eight hours viewing pornography from his office computer." Another employee reportedly "received nearly 1,800 access denials for pornography Web sites in a two-week period." Perhaps of most concern, at least for Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who is the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is the timing of the misconduct. He said:

[It is] nothing short of disturbing that high-ranking officials within the SEC were spending more time looking at pornography than taking action to help stave off the events that brought our nation's economy to the brink of collapse.

Even more interesting, the revelation comes just as the SEC has filed suit against Goldman Sachs executives and as Congress considers how to best reform the financial services industry.

 

Last fall, the National Science Foundation had to clean house after investigators discovered senior staffers had been using government time and equipment to view pornography. Of particular note, one employee described as a "senior executive" reportedly spent 331 days looking at inappropriate Web sites. Another, who had downloaded hundreds of explicit pictures and videos, told investigators he couldn't remember whether he had completed any government work on the day most of the images were downloaded.

 

I wondered then if the NSF needed to revamp its risk-management strategy if such activity was allowed to continue without detection for so long. That was bad enough.

 


But now we're talking about one of the agencies responsible for regulating all the public companies in the country. To say it's disturbing that the SEC's own internal governance and risk-management system didn't catch such misconduct before it got out of hand is an understatement.



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