SEC Chairman Christopher Cox issued the following statement in response to media reports over the weekend that the agency had “ordered columnists at two Dow Jones publications to provide information about conversations that they had with stock traders and analysts”:
“The issuance of a subpoena to a journalist which seeks to compel production of his or her notes and records of conversations with sources is highly unusual. Until the appearance of media reports this weekend, neither the Chairman of the SEC, the General Counsel, the Office of Public Affairs, nor any Commissioner was apprised of or consulted in connection with a decision to take such an extraordinary step. The sensitive issues that such a subpoena raises are of sufficient importance that they should, and will be, considered and decided by the Commission before this matter proceeds further.”
In other words, the career SEC employees did something that made the politicians running the agency look bad, and now they’re getting their knuckles rapped by the school marm.
Former BusinessWeek reporter Gary Weiss said pretty much the same thing on his blog: “I have to admit, I am having a bit of trouble understanding how nobody in authority, not even the spokesman’s office, knew what was going on until the weekend when the SEC’s top spokesman was saying things like that on Friday.”