BILL MOYERS: In our last episode of that Washington soap opera, “As the Door Revolves,” we introduced you to former federal prosecutor Mary Jo White, who left government to become a hot shot Wall Street lawyer defending such big firms as JP Morgan. "The New York Times" reports that she and her husband, who’s also a corporate litigator, have a net worth of at least $16 million and investments that might be valued as high as $35 million.

And now, courtesy of President Obama, Mary Jo White’s been named to head the SEC, the Securities and Exchange Commission -- the very agency that regulates her clients and everyone else doing business in the stock market.

But as they say on late night TV, wait, there’s more. Join us for our latest episode of “As the Door Revolves” in which the door spins ever faster between the SEC and big business. According to a major new report from the nonpartisan watchdog POGO – the Project on Government Oversight -- hundreds of the agency’s former employees have done or are doing business with the SEC on behalf of the corporations the agency is supposed to regulate.

Imagine – hundreds with an intimate knowledge of how the place works advocating for their clients with friends at the SEC -- colleagues who themselves may be looking for a big payoff when they, too, leave government.

No wonder the SEC has granted special waivers to business on some 350 occasions that, according to the report, “softened the blow of enforcement actions.” The plot thickens.

POGO also reports that when Obama’s first SEC chair, Mary Schapiro, pushed for reform of the money markets business, it was opposed by the two Republicans on the Commission and one Democrat, Luis Aguilar, who used to be an executive vice president with the money management firm Invesco.

He came out against Schapiro’s plan shortly after a meeting with Invesco officials. Coincidence? Aguilar told POGO there’s no connection.


When George W. Bush was president and named Chris Cox to run the SEC, we screamed like bloody murder, because Cox had been a partner at a huge global law firm whose client list included Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs.

Now Obama’s pushing his choices through the same revolving door. It’s called “regulatory capture” – the takeover of government agencies by the very corporations they’re supposed to keep an eye on, to protect everyone’s investments and pensions against abuses of private power.

What next? Well, stay tuned. In the next few weeks, Mary Jo White will sit for her confirmation hearing before a committee stacked with politicians whose big donors include the financial industry.

At our website,, there’s an interview with POGO’s Michael Smallberg, who led the investigation. You can also read the complete report, find out how to forward it to your own member of Congress, then open your window and scream.

That’s all at I’ll see you there and I’ll see you here, next time.

Bill Moyers Essay: As the SEC Door Revolves

Before Mary Jo White was named to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, she was a lawyer defending Wall Street titans including JPMorgan Chase, UBS, General Electric and Microsoft. Before that, she was a federal prosecutor. Of course, transitioning from policing to protecting to policing companies is not illegal — or even all that rare — but it does raise important questions about the integrity of our government watchdogs.

In this broadcast essay inspired by a report from the Project on Government Oversight, Bill introduces us to the latest episode of “As the Door Revolves,” starring the SEC and its cozy relationship with hundreds of former employees who’ve done past or present business with the SEC on behalf of corporations the agency is supposed to regulate.

“Imagine: hundreds with an intimate knowledge of how the [SEC] works, advocating for their clients with friends at the SEC — colleagues who themselves may be looking for a big payoff when they too leave government,” Bill says. “It’s called ‘regulatory capture': the takeover of government agencies by the very corporations they’re supposed to keep an eye on.”

Producer: Julia Conley. Editor: Paul Henry Desjarlais.

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  • Scott Kuechenmeister

    Project on Government Oversight rocks! thank you for your concern….

  • shirtbrigade

    I disagree with the legality aspect. She is conflicted out. Her knowledge of former clients and their activities would conflict her out of any regulatory position, even mail room cleaning. Of course, while an attorney, if she discovered her client was guilty of the conduct specifically alleged or other illegal conduct, failure to “fire the client” and report the crimes conflicted her out of legal work, for life. These are not hard concepts to understand. Money cannot buy you truth. Or can it??!

  • democracydc

    I didn’t know a situation could be worse than having a fox guarding the hen house but here it is.

  • Scott Fry

    One outrage after the other. Just how beholden to Wall Street is Obama?

  • Robert Bommicino

    …now if he would have only appointed Brooksley Born….we would have some reform on the Street!

  • Yo anon

    If you judge him by his actions instead of his words about 99 and 9/10’s%.

  • Chris

    Where is William O. Douglas when we need him?

  • Zee Flynn

    No worries here. They’ll do is a Congressional investigation which amounts to asking the parties involved if they did anything wrong, who will reply “Of course not.” Congress will respond “well done, and thanks for that campaign donation. Case closed.”
    See? All is well!

  • Dr. Woody

    Moyers asks: Is the revolving door a good idea?
    Woody answers: HELL NO.

    No one who has served in any government regulatory capacity should be
    allowed to participate in the industry they were supposed to be
    regulating for 10 years after leaving any agency….And anyone who
    enters regulation from industry should be required to divest themselves
    of any potentially conflict-causing interests.

  • tangobravo

    I suppose having an intimate working knowledge of an industry or area of business would be an asset. The problem seems to be (as with all of those who swing through the revolving door) that our appointed officials believe government to be a spring-board and not civil service. Calling all statesman (statesperson..)…?! Is the word outdated as well as gendered?

  • DaveO

    And they do this with a straight face.

  • BadonkaWonk

    If she honors her job and country, she could do corruption some damage ( having been on the inside). Incentivize sustainability!

  • Anonymous

    Robert I agree with your post.. She was in the way when it come to regulating derivatives market so Rubin, Greenspan, Summers, Sen Dodd took the authority from her..Greenspan stated the market would regulate itself…Thus the financial collapse ..

  • Mike Havenar

    FDR’s appointed the first SEC chairman, Joseph Kennedy, because, as a Wall Street insider who had made big bucks in the “normal” fashion, that is, as a crook, he knew how to do it, and where to look for criminality. In the same style, pit bosses are hired to watch dealers, because, as former dealers who had been caught stealing, they knew how it was done.

  • discus_thomasinapaine

    Again you are equating presumed political party leaders to the real People of Power. Not necessarily the correct coupling. (pardon the accidental alliteration lol)