SEC Regulators Distracted By Porn

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Ever wonder why government regulators didn’t see the financial crisis coming? It turns out their eyes were focused elsewhere.

While the financial world crashed, many regulators at the Securities and Exchange Commission were busy surfing the Web for porn. Lots and lots of porn. One SEC accountant had hundreds of pornographic pictures saved on her computer, another had tried to log on to porn sites an incredible 16,000 times in a single month. (To put that in perspective, if that person worked 200 hours that month, then that means the employee tried to look at porn more than 1.3 times each minute of the work day.)

“The investigation, which was conducted by the SEC's internal watchdog at the request of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, found 31 serious offenders over the past two and a half years,” ABC News reports. To make matters even worse, several of the employees were higher-ups with big paychecks. “Seventeen of the offenders were senior SEC officers with salaries ranging from $100,000 to $222,000 per year.”

No, these employees weren’t great at imposing regulations, but man were they good at breaking them. One worker managed to “disable a filter” on the office Web browser, another brought in a flash drive to get around the cyber barrier.

As bad as this is, the incident does fit into a larger tradition of government officials looking at porn. The Washington Post points out some other cases including an executive at the National Science Foundation who “spent at least 331 days looking at pornography on his government computer.” But hey, at least they didn’t travel across state lines with a personal escort like a certain big name financial regulator.

All of this makes us wonder how much sooner the SEC could have caught Bernie Madoff if they had just stopped clicking on porn and did their jobs. For the time being, no punishment has been announced for these employees and the SEC has declined to make any official comment.

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