File under: Abysmal Timing. Just a week after the Securities and Exchange Commission filed an audacious lawsuit against Goldman Sachs—Wall Street's most-hated casino—comes a revelation that a few dozen SEC employees, including a few lame-ass higher-ups, have been downloading porn on their government computers for years. It's probably a tempest in a teapot, given that you would likely find such misbehavior at any large agency at any time if you bothered to look. But it's still a major embarassment for an agency trying to remake it's public image after blowing it so completely on Bernie Madoff. Mary Schapiro must be pissing her pants right about now.
The Inspector General's office conducted investigations of 33 SEC employees, nearly all since 2008, according to a case summary requested by Senator Charles Grassley and obtained by the Washington Post:
A senior attorney at SEC headquarters in Washington admitted he sometimes spent as much as eight hours viewing pornography from his office computer, according to the report. The attorney’s computer ran out of space for the downloaded images, so he started storing them on CDs and DVDs that he stored in his office.
Grassley's people claimed the timing was coincidental. Right. Meanwhile, Cali Congressman Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was quick to score some points for his party, which has lost a few by opposing the administration's relatively feeble attempt to reform Wall Street. "This stunning report should make everyone question the wisdom of moving forward with plans to give regulators like the SEC even more widespread authority," Issa told the Post.
Follow Michael Mechanic on Twitter.