April 23rd, 2010
12:59 AM ET

SEC staffers watched porn as economy crashed

As the country was sinking into its worst financial crisis in more than 70 years, Security and Exchange Commission employees and contractors cruised porn sites and viewed sexually explicit pictures using government computers, an SEC investigation obtained by CNN showed.

"During the past five years, the SEC OIG (Office of Inspector General) substantiated that 33 SEC employees and or contractors violated Commission rules and policies, as well as the government-wide Standards of Ethical Conduct, by viewing pornographic, sexually explicit or sexually suggestive images using government computer resources and official time," said a summary of the investigation by the inspector general's office.

More than half of the workers made between $99,000 – $223,000. All the cases took place over the past five years.

"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," said Rep. Darrell Issa. The Republican is a ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

"This stunning report should make everyone question the wisdom of moving forward with plans to give regulators like the SEC even more widespread authority," he said. "Inexplicably, rather than exercise its existing regulatory enforcement authority, SEC officials were preoccupied with other distractions."

Read the full CNN.com story

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Filed under: Economy
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Otto

    Well there's a pervert in every company, public or private. Just fire or discipline those 33 out of the 2000? 5000? workers at the SEC.

    While I don't think all the SEC's actions were wise, it won't solve anything to reduce their regulatory powers at this time. There's too much slack and rampant betting to allow the system to go unguided. The system is too free-wheeling and apparently can easily spin out of control. Maintain the SEC's authority to maintain some friction, or add to it. Then slowly peel it away if it goes too far. Better safe than sorry.

    Big govt didn't cause the economy to go bad. The bad economy caused the government to get big.

    April 23, 2010 at 1:42 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. The Crypticum Keeper

    Something strangely ironic in this...

    April 23, 2010 at 1:42 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. jesse

    Yep.... that sounds par for course.

    April 23, 2010 at 1:44 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Jeff

    Yeah, like that is trully any different that our Congress or Senate if we were to know the truth not to mention the Army, Navy and Marines. NONE of which is excuseable.

    April 23, 2010 at 1:48 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. carlos

    This is so crazy, they should've been working, not watching porn. Classic!

    April 23, 2010 at 1:50 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Jason

    Dishonest, thinly-veiled and overhyped attempt to protect bankers from government oversight. The facts provided are that 33 of more than 4000 employees (assuming minimal turnover) were identified as 'violating policy' by viewing porn, maybe just a few times and maybe something relatively innocuous. And that was over a 5-year period.
    The statement by (surprise) a republican is that officials were spending "more time looking at pornography" than doing work. He jumps from 33 incidents over five years (of 4000 staffers) to the implication that many or maybe most "high ranking officials" spent "more time" which is more than 4 hours per day looking at porn for some or most of that period. The conclusion does not fit the facts.
    Rep Issa then exacerbates the charade by suggesting that this incident rate of <1% of staffers at the SEC indicates that government regulation is flawed.
    This kind of hyperbole is dishonest and in my opinion fraudulent.

    April 23, 2010 at 1:52 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. JAY Light

    This is the world we live in, these people get paid huge salaries to do nothing, as do so many Americans. Why should they actually do their job if noone's making them? Lazy Americans.

    April 23, 2010 at 1:52 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Sonny Rosenthal

    How many employees and contractors work for SEC? Keep in mind that there are lots and lots of contractors. The fact that 33 employees over 5 YEARS looked at inappropriate material is hardly newsworthy. I'll be more CNN employees looked at porn while at work during the last week. Why is this even a story? Shame on CNN for making this a story!

    And Darrell Issa, shame on you for politicizing this non-story! You are implying that surfing porn was somehow related to the economic collapse. In other CNN front-page news, the banks are back to their big bonuses. Maybe you should be more concerned about that than the average ,02 daily SEC employee porn views. Seriously! And can you say with certainty that not one of the many people employed in your office has not looked at inappropriate materials in the past five years? Now, compare the size of your office to the size of the SEC. I would wager that your office is at least as bad as the SEC. How about an investigation?

    April 23, 2010 at 1:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. mark matsusaki

    Gosh. Isn't there some technology in place to keep employees from surfing porn? I've worked in places, where there was no browsing of anything close to a time suck.

    And it took an audit to uncover this? Any system admin worth his salt could have just looked at a server log and told you this was happening.

    Many people were asleep at the wheel.

    April 23, 2010 at 2:08 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Ray

    I've always proclaimed how all auditing agencies of the Federal Service went on a secret strike beginning at the start of the GW Bush Admin in about 2003/2003. I was working for the DoD and was a whistleblower, and I tried & tried & tried to get the IG to address the improprieties, and he simply did not. The IG was not responsible to me. Now that Bush is out of office suddenly they 'care.' It's criminal...Bush was criminal.

    April 23, 2010 at 2:18 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. McGowen

    I think I'll just stay on unemployment and let the richest people pay the taxes that pay the salaries of these porn watching employees of the Federal Government.

    April 23, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse | Reply
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