3. Khuzami Cashes Out
"It's both aggressive enforcement and vigorous defense that are critical to justice and fairness," said former SEC head of enforcement Robert Khuzami to the NYT after Monday's announcement that he is leaving public service to earn $5 million a year as a partner in the Washington office of legal giant Kirkland & Ellis.
Thanks for the clarity and your service to our country Bob. Much appreciated. Still, you know what would be critical to us?
If you would simply take the money and shut the heck up.Look. We don't begrudge Khuzami's decision to trade his government experience for cold hard cash. Revolving door, schmevolving door. This guy left a pile of dough on the table after spending seven years at Deutsche Bank (DB) in order to return to Washington in 2009 to clean up the SEC in the wake of the financial crisis and Madoff scandal. In our view, this is his chance to make that cash back, so who are we to criticize him for it. Furthermore, Bob wasn't solely concentrating on his next private-sector gig when he was running things at the SEC. Under his charge, the SEC brought a record 735 enforcement actions in fiscal 2011 and 734 actions in fiscal 2012, so he certainly wasn't your average clock-punching career bureaucrat. Put simply. He gamed the system in the best possible way for everybody. (Oh, and as for the high-minded idea that high-profile ex-government workers like Khuzami choose a monkish existence in academia as opposed to pocketing fat lobbyist paychecks? Well, our current Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew proved that idea to be high comedy based on his lavish, but brief stint at New York Univerisity before he sold out for even more money at Citigroup (C).) That said, if we were going to criticize Khuzami, it would be for not nailing a single high-ranking Wall Street executive -- say Dick Fuld, Jon Corzine or any of his old buddies at that subprime cesspool Deutsche Bank, just to name a few -- in the aftermath of the credit bubble. Think about it. The SEC went to Wall Street and all it got was the Fabulous Fab Tourre. How's that for a T-shirt slogan? Yeah, we know he got Goldman Sachs (GS) to pony up $550 million about its toxic bond sales, but let's be honest, that's Lloyd Blankfein's bar bill at the club. His traders made that back in no time. And now Khuzami will be able to join Lloyd at that elite club after taking a few years off to serve his country. Perhaps he can get a few tips from Robert Rubin while he's clinking glasses with the other bureaucrats turned figurehead investment bankers. You know, the Robert Rubin who jumped from Goldman to Treasury to Citigroup where he pocketed tens of millions for doing absolutely nothing except watch the bank go down the toilet. Come to think of it. Whatever happened to that Rubin fellow anyway? Washington could use a go-getter like him.
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