Risk & Compliance

Bush Nominates Cox to Head SEC

Christopher Cox, a Republican congressman from California, is a supporter of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and a co-author of the Private Securities Litig...
Dave Cook and Stephen TaubJune 2, 2005

President Bush has nominated Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Calif.) to succeed William Donaldson as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Donaldson announced yesterday that he would step down on June 30.

Cox is the first chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security as well as a veteran of the Financial Services Committee, according to the AP.

A supporter of the landmark Sarbanes-Oxley Act — Rep. Michael Oxley is the chairman of the Financial Services Committee — Cox also co-wrote the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. That bill, which made it easier for companies to defend themselves against securities fraud lawsuits, was the only legislation to become law over a veto by President Clinton, according to The New York Times.

In addition, Cox has been a fervent advocate of repealing the
estate tax, the capital-gains tax on savings and investment, and taxes on dividends, according to The New York Post, and has also supported banning taxes on Internet commerce.

In a statement, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, said he was “troubled by the prospect of the president appointing a successor to [Donaldson] who will lead the commission in undoing progress that has been made in recent years,” reported the Post.

John Coffee, a securities-law professor at Columbia University, noted that if Bush were to nominate one of the SEC’s two other Republican commissioners — Paul Atkins and Cynthia Glassman — to succeed Donaldson, the President could circumvent what may be a contentious Senate confirmation, the Post also noted.

The 52 year-old Cox, who graduated from Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School in the same year, specialized in venture capital and corporate finance with the law firm of Latham & Watkins from 1978 to 1986. He then served as a senior associate counsel to President Reagan before being elected to Congress from Orange County, California.