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Today (Feb. 1) in Rolling Stone online, author Matt Taibbi asks more probing questions about the fitness of Mary Jo White, lawyer with a white shoe law firm, to be head of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as President Obama desires. Once again, Taibbi looks at White's role in the firing of San Diego's Gary Aguirre for wanting to follow an extremely obvious path of possible insider trading tips passed by a Wall Street lion, John Mack. This sordid story has been covered by Taibbi and by the Reader for several years, but new information has surfaced.

To recap: Mack went to Switzerland to interview for a top job with Credit Suisse First Boston. It was the investment banker for Heller Financial, which was going to be acquired by General Electric. But that was a secret at the time. Mack was close to Pequot Capital; Pequot's Art Samberg met with his old friend, Mack. Immediately afterward, Pequot started buying Heller stock, even though Pequot had never researched Heller. Pequot raked in $18 million and Mack was cut in to a deal that netted him $10 million. Aguirre wanted, logically, to interview Mack. White, then with the fraud defense law firm of Debevoise and Plimpton, went to the head of enforcement and got the matter taken care of. The lawyer handling the case for the SEC, Paul Berger, was offered a multi-million job at Debevoise and Plimpton. While still at the SEC, he fired Aguirre. Later, two congressional committees and the SEC's inspector general vindicated Aguirre, who got a $755,000 wrongful termination settlement from the agency.

Taibbi points out in his article today that when she was being deposed by the SEC's in-house investigator, she said she had been worried that Berger was too aggressive. She wondered if such aggressiveness "could leave resentment in the business community or in the legal community that would hamper his ability to function to function well in the private sector." Aggressiveness by a regulator is "a positive thing in government, to a point," declared White.

Says Taibbi, "Given that we now know that she knows that firms like hers value regulators who can avoid creating 'resentment in the business community,' and retain their ability to 'function in the private sector,' I think it's safe to expect that White's SEC will take very good care to bring cases, but only 'to a point.'"

And that's exactly what the SEC does NOT need, in my opinion. Much of Wall Street's corruption can be laid at the feet of a namby-pamby -- and often corrupt -- SEC, as the Pequot/Aguirre/White misadventure shows. If Obama is serious about cleaning up Wall Street, he doesn't want a lawyer from a white shoe law firm who thinks regulators should be aggressive "to a point." The SEC should have lawyers who are aggressive "to the core."

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Don Bauder Feb. 1, 2013 @ 1:53 p.m.

NOTE: MAYBE THE SEC'S PEREGRINE WHITEWASH WILL COME UP IN THE MARY JO WHITE INVESTIGATION. If politicians and the press really look into Mary Jo White's role in the SEC's firing of Gary Aguirre for trying to get honest information, let's hope that some light will be shed on the SEC's whitewash of Peregrine Systems's board, particularly John Moores, former Padres owner and Peregrine chairman. Thus far, this has only been covered by the Reader. Above, I tell how the SEC's Paul Berger got a lucrative job with Debevoise and Plimpton, White's law firm. "Berger contacted Debevoise and Plimpton about potential employment just days after he initialed Aguirre's termination notice," wrote Senate investigators, who vindicated Aguirre.

According to a Senate probe, Berger worked through an intermediary, one Lawrence West, another SEC lawyer. In 2005, West wrote an email to Berger. The subject line was "Debevoise." The message: "Mary Jo [White] just called. I mentioned your interest." Berger, who Senate investigators said was "less than forthcoming" in the investigation, admitted that West was the go-between in his getting a plush job with Debevoise.

As I have mentioned in the Reader several times, West was the SEC's head lawyer in the investigation of the San Diego Peregrine Systems scam. John Moores, longtime chairman of Peregrine, had had his personal lawyer, Charles La Bella, quarterback a study that, hardly surprisingly, whitewashed the Peregrine board. The study was done by the law firm of Latham and Watkins. West blessed that Latham and Watkins study. Within four months of helping Berger get his Debevoise job, West joined Latham and Watkins.

Let's get this adventure out in the open, too.


SurfPuppy619 Feb. 1, 2013 @ 4:15 p.m.

Don, please provide a link to the RS Tiabbi rticle if you can.


SurfPuppy619 Feb. 2, 2013 @ 6:39 a.m.

thanks, I could not locate it.........


Don Bauder Feb. 2, 2013 @ 7:20 a.m.

SP: You should make Taibbi's stories and blog items regular reading. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 2, 2013 @ 7:19 a.m.

Fred: As I have said on this blog, Matt Taibbi is the best financial columnist in the U.S. now. I am sure that many other financial reporters and columnists know that what he says is true, but are afraid to put it into print because publishers, their bosses, don't want to get into messy subjects such as the revolving door, whereby Wall Street lawyers control government regulators. Best, Don Bauder


SurfPuppy619 Feb. 2, 2013 @ 8:30 a.m.

Oh, I have, and now I have his page bookmarked, and am reading several columns/articles I had missed recently.


Don Bauder Feb. 2, 2013 @ 1:01 p.m.

SurfPup: Happy reading. Best, Don Bauder


Fred Williams Feb. 2, 2013 @ 10:06 p.m.

If you like Taibbi, have you ever read Radley Balko? He was at Reason, then at his own site (www.theagitator.com) and was recently hired by the HuffPo (waiting to see how that works out, his writing remains outstanding).


There are some outstanding journalists today...though not enough in San Diego, sadly.


Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2013 @ 8:22 a.m.

Fred: Haven't read Balko. Going from Reason to the Huffington Post is an interesting switch. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh Feb. 2, 2013 @ 9:26 a.m.

I don't know about most other readers, but Rolling Stone is the absolute last place I'd ever look for any sort of muckraking reporting about financial matters. He should be writing for Forbes or Fortune or Time or USNews or some other mainstream sort of publication. Hmm. Well, since I'm a persistent critic of mainstream media, maybe the offbeat nature of RS is a recommendation for it.


SurfPuppy619 Feb. 2, 2013 @ 11:44 a.m.

Visduh, you are sooo right. I told Don the same thing many months ago, when the top financial reporter in the nation is a writer at ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE then you know we have problems (with the top financial news reporting agencies not Taibbi or RSM).


Don Bauder Feb. 2, 2013 @ 1:08 p.m.

SurfPup: Forbes has A. Gary Shilling, an excellent columnist. One of the major London papers -- forgotten which -- frequently runs op-eds by Frank Partnoy of the USD law school. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 2, 2013 @ 1:05 p.m.

Visduh: I have never read Rolling Stone itself, but of course read Taibbi's articles. I was just talking two days ago to a friend whose son is a longtime Rolling Stone subscriber. He says that most of the publication is about rock music, movies, etc. but every issue there are a couple of top-flight investigative stories, including those by Taibbi. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh Feb. 2, 2013 @ 9:03 p.m.

Shows you how much I know. I'd have concluded that Rolling Stone was all about rock bands, clubs, the counter culture (whatever the heck that means nowadays), entertainment, and how to cope with regular society. And maybe that stereotype is generally correct, but then, ya' nevah know. Sort of like the Reader, wouldn't you say?


Don Bauder Feb. 2, 2013 @ 9:44 p.m.

Visduh: The Reader's genius is appealing to a young audience (the most desirable to advertisers) as well as appealing to an audience of sophisticated older folks. Best, Don Bauder


tomjohnston Feb. 5, 2013 @ 9:01 a.m.

Rolling Stone has ALWAYS had liberal politics as one of it's focuses. I mean, how could you have people like Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe as writers and NOT. Then throw in the likes of Jan Morris, P.J. O'Rourke, William Greide on economics, well you get the idea. I will say that in the late'90's, RS did move more towards pop-culture e rather than counter culture, much to the disdain of most long time readers, such as ourselves. For some reason, Jan Wenner dumped longtime managing editor Robert Love in favor of some douche from FHM magazine.. Finally, maybe5-6 yrs ago, someone pulled their head out and got back on track. Hiring Taibbi and Micheal Hastings sure didn't hurt. BTW, I think today, Hipsters would be considered as counterculture. If you're not sure of what a hipster is, like me, here are a couple of things: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/books/review/Greif-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0



Duhbya Feb. 5, 2013 @ 9:52 a.m.

Don't know that I have ever seen or heard anyone imply that P.J. O'Rourke was a lib.



tomjohnston Feb. 5, 2013 @ 11:25 a.m.

Didn't intend to say that he was a lib. I said then throw in the likes of Jan Morris, P.J. O'Rourke, William Greide as an illustration of RS culture at the time. I understand the confusion, though. I believe a long time RS reader would be hip to my meaning. Most cats from that era remember RS for what it was then, and to an extent is returning to, and look with some disdain to what it was during it's "pop culture" era. I guess having never been a RS reader, it's not your bag. That's cool, though. Groove to what you know.


Duhbya Feb. 5, 2013 @ 12:07 p.m.

My misread, then. And I do seem to recall that he was not always as staunchly conservative as he appears to be today. As for having never been a reader, suffice to say that I was a subscriber for more than 30 years, and had many of their first issues, the newspaper-style ones, before they switched to the tabloid format. Wonder which rental I left those in? So, yes, it was indeed my rag, uh, bag.

From '68 - a late, great hometown hero.


tomjohnston Feb. 6, 2013 @ 11:48 a.m.

My bad, I meant the second part, the never been a reader part, for Don Bauder. was in a hurry and forgot to specify that. I have all but a handful of issues from RS1 with John Lennon on the cover up to RS 277 with Gilda Radner on the cover. Many of the early issues were my brothers. Alot of great issues back then. Hard to pick a fav. Issue 1 of course, but after that, probably too tough to pick.


SurfPuppy619 Feb. 5, 2013 @ 4:17 p.m.

Most cats from that era ....

Im a kool kat myself !


tomjohnston Feb. 6, 2013 @ 11:52 a.m.

Yeah, like sorry man, but your way to young too be a "kool Kat" from that era.


Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2013 @ 4:49 p.m.

tomjohnston. On quick reading I thought you were saying that a hipster was like you. Then I realized you were saying that you didn't really know what a hipster is..."If you're not sure of what a hipster is, like me,"... It threw me for a few seconds. Best, Don Bauder


tomjohnston Feb. 6, 2013 @ 11:51 a.m.

Yeah, safe to say, at 62, I'm sure as hell no hipster. I may have long ago cut my hair, quit smoking reefer and learned how to play the man's game and make alot of money, but I'm still just an old hippie at heart.


Duhbya Feb. 6, 2013 @ 1:38 p.m.

I'm also 62, and my hips don't stir like they used to, either.


Fred Williams Feb. 2, 2013 @ 10:27 p.m.

Reposting to make this link more prominent:


Radley Balko is another outstanding journalist. If you like Bauder, Potter, Taibbi...you'll also like Balko. His work documenting the militarization of police is required reading for anyone concerned about the future of democracy in America.


SurfPuppy619 Feb. 3, 2013 @ 2:32 a.m.

I am buying his book for sure........I have said for years that police departments hire on everyhting BUT merit, and that 1) family, 2) friends and 3) ex-military are hired for nearly all openings.


Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2013 @ 7:04 a.m.

SurfPup: Nepotism is a problem is police department hiring around the U.S., including San Diego. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 3, 2013 @ 9:29 a.m.

Fred: I have heard of Balko's work but can't remember having read it. I will have to do so. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2013 @ 8:26 a.m.

Fred: I have been concerned about the militarization of local police, and the apparent centralized control of them. The brutal police tactics used in the Occupy movement seemed to have been coordinated nationally. Maybe from Washington via Wall Street. Best, Don Bauder


Fred Williams Feb. 5, 2013 @ 9:50 a.m.

Don, it's not only the militarization (though that is deadly serious)...it's also about "testilying" under oath, so casually done every day by almost every cop. Here are two recent articles with details:



We also have to look at how seriously flawed the forensic labs are...not at all what the television dramas would have us believe, a lot of these "scientists" are hacks and cranks, yet they wield the power to put people in jail for life or worse.

Then we have prosecutorial immunity...the doctrine that a DA and all their subordinates can prosecute as maliciously as they like, destroying lives, with no consequences.

Put all this together and anyone who still has faith in the American justice system looks pretty naive.


SurfPuppy619 Feb. 5, 2013 @ 4:32 p.m.

Don, it's not only the militarization (though that is deadly serious)...it's also about "testifying" under oath, so casually done every day by almost every cop

This is sooo funny that you mention testilying, as I was stopped for, of all things, an alleged violation of an "obstructed license plate" (BS). I will make a long story short, the cop was a young kid with probably just 1 or 2 years under his belt and he tried to give me the third degree on things like what was I doing, where was I going, blah blah blah. I was trying to be cool, but this ass clown thought he was Super Cop and was so aggressive that he finally set me off. I finally laid the law down to him, told him question time was over and to either write up a ticket or get the hell out of Dodge. He wrote the ticket. I went to court to fight it- as I do all tickets even an obstructed license plate- and this douchebag claimed that I had "admitted" to him that my bumper was obstructed. Problem is I never made such an admission, and the claim was even more improbable as I had requested the traffic citation be set for trial at the "county seat", which proves the ticket was being contested. What a lying POS dirtbag! But this was a MAJOR mistake on his part, as he was wearing what is known as a "Digital Audio Recorder" ("DAR") during the traffic stop, that recorded everything he said, and everything I said. DAR'S are for the safety of the cop- but also the public as it records exactly what goes down. His second gigantic problem is the traffic court was ALSO recording everything he said in court, including the claim that I "admitted" the bumper was obstructed. I had him, and I had him dead-to-rights. He was toast, he just didn't know it yet. His ticket was tossed, now I had legal standing/status to sue. I wrote his Chief, explained in excruciating detail the perjury by his officer, I told him he owed me $2,500 for the time I spent and if the didn't pay up I would sue as many parties as I could, and promptly received no reply. The next a major problem for Dirty Young Cop is I am very experienced in suing cops in federal court, and that is exactly what happened, and $20,000+ later Dirty Young Cop learned his lesson and now has a federal police misconduct lawsuit under his belt.


Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2013 @ 7:08 a.m.

SurfPup: Very interesting story, proving your tenacity. If you put "SurfPuppy" on your license plates, wise cops would leave you alone. Best, Don Bauder


SurfPuppy619 Feb. 6, 2013 @ 7:43 a.m.

Don, it goes to show you that those DAR's, the digital recording devices, can prove exactly what goes down in a police/citizen encounter, and that recording cuts both ways, protecting the cop from bogus complaints, and protecting the citizen from dirty cops.


Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2013 @ 4:52 p.m.

Fred: Yes, that NY Times piece on cops lying in court is excellent. Best, Don Bauder


MondoGrapes Feb. 3, 2013 @ 6:04 a.m.

Matt Taibbi and Don Bauder have been my go-to's for keeping an eye on the scoundrels in high places and for my education on financial chicanery. I have urged many a person to read their work. I will check out some of the others mentioned here as well. I would like to recommend Barry Ritholtz too. He is the author of Bailout Nation and has a regular column in the Sunday Washington Post. His blog is regular reading for me and it is excellent-- The Big Picture (www.ritholtz.com).


Don Bauder Feb. 3, 2013 @ 9:30 a.m.

MondoGrapes: Yes, Barry Ritholtz is very good. He appears on business TV shows regularly, too. Best, Don Bauder


SurfPuppy619 Feb. 3, 2013 @ 8:45 a.m.

I would like to recommend Barry Ritholtz too. He is the author of Bailout Nation...

Awesome, thanks for the toip...........TWO good tips herefor me!!!!!




Don Bauder Feb. 3, 2013 @ 9:32 a.m.

SurfPup: Ritholtz is very good at piercing through the fog of government-issued statistics. Best, Don Bauder


SurfPuppy619 Feb. 4, 2013 @ 7:56 p.m.

I swear to god I ordered Bailout Nation YESTERDAY and received it TODAY.


tomjohnston Feb. 4, 2013 @ 9:35 p.m.

Really, you ordered it on a Sunday and received it on a Monday?? What was the shipping method? I'd like to specify that method the next time I get something from Amazon.


SurfPuppy619 Feb. 4, 2013 @ 10:24 p.m.

Hold on, I am checking....YES!;

Order Placed: February 3, 2013

Order Details | Invoice Order Number:102-1987665-51842 Recipient: SurfPuppy619 Order total:$16.00


SurfPuppy619 Feb. 4, 2013 @ 10:28 p.m.

I will look at the package.....Amazon, USPS from North Las Vegas. I have no idea how it came so fast-it was routed thru LA.


Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2013 @ 4:55 p.m.

SurfPup: Will you swear in court that you do not work for -- or own shares in -- Amazon? Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 5, 2013 @ 8:28 a.m.

SurfPup: Sounds like Amazon deserves its high stock price. Best, Don Bauder


Fred Williams Feb. 4, 2013 @ 1:35 a.m.

Nassim Taleb says about journalists:

In the past journalism was an act of courage, revealing truths in the face of powerful establishments and risking jail or even death. Today (except in such repressive regimes as as Syria or Russia and except for war correspondents) it is becoming the refuge of disconnected cowards. In my entire career I have never seen a financial journalist go to "the other side", that is pull the trigger or engage in risk taking or in any situation in which one can be exposed to harm from one's opinion. This can be generalized to journalists in general, who rarely, if ever, switch to doing, all the while pontificating on "Steve Job's mistakes" or similar purported errors of others, or praising Geithner and other powerful frauds. Jazi Zilber wondered why journalists seemingly so knowledgeable about politics never become politicians. It is the same problem: modern journalists are designed to be either cowards, or have a need to escape reality. Yet the tragedy is that doers are in contact with the world through journalists. (SKIN IN THE GAME (BOOK VII), comment)


Don Bauder Feb. 4, 2013 @ 7:56 a.m.

Fred: I have had four or five death or maiming threats -- perhaps more if I thought hard about it -- but those were spread over a career of almost 50 years. Incidentally, Gretchen Morgenson of the NY Times had an unflattering column on Geithner Sunday. I have to believe Taibbi has had death threats. At the U-T, local business executives, particularly corporate welfare mendicants, would frequently and bitterly complain to the management about what I was writing. And they had far more clout inside the organization than I had. There are also libel threats that are intellectually and legally empty, but still take the writers' and editors' time. But I don't dismiss Taleb's remarks; he makes good points. Best, Don Bauder


Fred Williams Feb. 6, 2013 @ 3:09 a.m.

Don, I think Taleb is referring to the journalists of my generation. You have done courageous work, and continue to do so.

But you will be the first to acknowledge how few do that today. So many reporters are mere stenographers, repeating what government spoke-mouths (themselves former reporters) have been told to say.

The journalist in San Diego salivates at the thought of getting one of those safe, comfortable, well paid spokes-mouth positions.

I don't think you ever aspired to that.

I would point out in particular Gerry Braun as an example of a political reporter become spokes-mouth...what do you think of your former colleague at the UT?


Don Bauder Feb. 6, 2013 @ 7:25 a.m.

Fred: Braun was a very good reporter at the U-T, and later was a superb columnist. In between those jobs, he was given a management job as writing coach. Unfortunately, he kowtowed to management in that slot. I think he was put there as a way to get rid of a tough reporter. But then he was made a columnist and was a huge hit with readers, deservedly. I was disappointed when he left to go with the mayor (by that time, I was gone from the U-T.) He had a fight with the U-T's editorial management. I once knew the details, but have forgotten them. There is another factor: Braun's wife died, leaving him with children to raise. However, that may have happened after he left the U-T; I just don't remember. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh Feb. 6, 2013 @ 10:01 p.m.

Some of the reporters on the papers in some smaller cities and towns large enough to still have a daily paper "report" stories all day long. What do they report? They report, generally in a tone that suggests fact, just what someone with a reason to obscure the truth tells them. The newspaper, and I use that term loosely in this case, in Boise, Idaho is a case in point. It is owned by Gannett (or was, last I looked) and just parrots what comes out in the press releases. That city had, for its size, quite a number of corporate hq's at one time, such as Morrison Knudsen, Albertson's, and Boise-Cascade. When they got in trouble and eventually went away, the paper didn't make any attempt to dig up the dirt on them and really reveal what went wrong. So, the local readers, including folks who lost their jobs, were never served by that paper. And here it is in a state capital, and serves an extended metro area with well over a half million people. That's journalism?


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