SEC Porn Peekers Confess

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission workers who made a habit of looking at pornography on their government computers, even as the economy was tanking, offered varying explanations when caught.

“I think it was just arrogance and ignorance on my part,” one worker said. “You know, I mean … I didn’t intend to hurt anybody. I didn’t intend to hurt the SEC’s image or anything like that.”

The Washington Times reported in February on the existence of about two dozen such cases, which were detailed in reports to Congress as well as in more than 150 pages of case summaries obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Additional pornography cases surfaced last week in a memo from the SEC’s inspector general to Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican.

The new memo contained information on a total 33 porn-related investigations over the past five years, most of them during the financial meltdown and 17 involving senior SEC employees earning as much as $222,000 per year. The memo was first reported by the Associated Press.

"I think it was just arrogance and ignorance on my part," one worker said.

“As we said when this story was first reported in the media in February, every instance of inappropriate use of the Internet investigated by the inspector general was detected by the SEC’s own surveillance and referred to the inspector general for investigation,” SEC spokesman John Nester said Friday.

“Each of the offending employees has been disciplined or is in the process of being disciplined,” he said. “Some have already been suspended or dismissed.”

Since February, the SEC also has “further increased penalties” for those caught looking at porn at work, Mr. Nester said.

The Times previously reported that some workers caught viewing porn, often for weeks or months at a time, were allowed to stay on the job. One SEC employee who attempted to look up pornography more than 400 times received a three-day suspension. Another employee who looked up porn 271 times received a one-day suspension, records show.

“We will not tolerate the transgressions of the very few who bring discredit to their thousands of hard working colleagues,” Mr. Nester said.

A review of case reports on the porn-related investigations shows that workers gave varying excuses when confronted by investigators. One worker acknowledged that he didn’t have the self-control to stop viewing the pornography, even though he knew he was breaking SEC rules.

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By Jim McElhatton

http://www.washingtontimes.com