Peekaboo prosecution’ turns 20
Russell G. Ryan, Opinion Contributor - Jul 8
Imagine a dystopian world where Congress empowers a private corporation to secretly investigate and punish members of a particular profession — say, auditors. Think of a private version of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), but with evergreen funding that never requires an appropriation from Congress and with lavishly compensated personnel who are exempt from laws designed to keep governmental regulators in check.
Found this doc that may explain the post above, was James involved with SEC and PCAOB
Peekaboo! PCAOB More Powerful and Less Accountable than Government Claims
• Jonathan Moore • 12/04/2009
On December 7, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. The case, brought by CEI and Jones Day attorneys on behalf of the Free Enterprise Fund, challenges the constitutionality of the wayPublic Company Accounting Oversight Board (also known as PCAOB, or not so affectionately as Peekaboo)members are appointed.
The PCAOB, which was established by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, is an independent governmental agency (according to Sarbanes-Oxley it is a private institution, but even supporters of the Board’s structure admit that it is a governmental body) whose members are selected by the SEC commissioners collectively. The lawyers arguing the case argue that this selection process violates the appointments clause of the Constitution.
The Constitution, in Article 2 sec. 2, establishes that the President “Shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate to… nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.”
According to the Constitution, the President is responsible for appointing what has later been defined as “principal officers.” Further, if the officers are deemed to be “inferior officers,” Congress may give appointment power to the President, a judge, or the head of a department. Lawyers for the Free Enterprise Fund charge that regardless of whether the PCAOB members are principal or inferior, the Constitution has been violated. The President does not appoint the board members, and as such, if they are principal officers, the Constitution has been violated. If the board members, however, are inferior officers, they have not been appointed by a head of a department, rather, they have been appointed by the SEC commissioners.
Lawyers defending the constitutionality of the PCAOB have charged that the board members are inferior officers, and that the SEC commissioners collectively are the head of the SEC. Further, they claim that the SEC has complete control over the PCAOB through several powers, including the power to review all PCAOB rules, and approving the PCAOB’s budget. As such, they argue, this direct supervisory authority makes the PCAOB clear inferior officers, and since the President has control over the SEC commissioners, who have control over the PCAOB, the President has “fully effective control” over the PCAOB.
Yesterday, however, at an American Enterprise Institute event titled “Public Company Accounting Oversight Board: A Preview”, former SEC Commissioner (2002-2008) Paul Atkins provided an alternative story of the SEC’s control over the PCAOB, as well as refuting the claim that the SEC commissioners are collectively the head of the SEC.
Atkins noted several areas in which the PCAOB managed to evade SEC controls and operate very independently of the SEC. First, he stated that the PCAOB’s budget was not nearly as under control by the SEC as has been claimed. Atkins stated that the “staff at Peekaboo were not telling the truth” to the SEC about the PCAOB’s budget. His experience at the SEC led him to the conclusion that the SEC “didn’t really have the authority it supposedly did” over the PCAOB’s budget.