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Investigation Nation: SEC Employees and Inspector General Play Cat-and-Mouse

Bruce Carton | November 3, 2011

A group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has asked the SEC Inspector General to launch an investigation into whether SEC employees are using private email accounts and cell phones to avoid having their communications reviewed in SEC Inspector General investigations. 

Got that? The story has a bit of a "Spy-vs. Spy" feel to it. SEC employees have government-issued email accounts and mobile phones to use in their jobs. They have all learned by now, however, that the SEC's IG is extraordinarily aggressive and seems to be constantly conducting investigations into the conduct of SEC employees. As such, Bloomberg reports

their fear of Kotz's probes has caused them and others to change work habits in ways that have unintended consequences.

Kotz has reviewed millions of internal messages in some investigations. That has prompted many in the agency to rely largely on private e-mail accounts and cell phones, rather than their government-issued devices, the people said. As a result, staff conduct is harder to monitor....

Problem solved, right? Wrong! Following the publication of the Bloomberg article on October 28, CREW is now agitating for an investigation into how some SEC employees may have managed to avoid showing up in prior investigations, in possible violation of the Federal Records Act.

What's next? Maybe SEC employees will counter by conducting all future discussions verbally? The IG could then fire back with a listening device that can record all verbal discussions in all SEC offices. SEC employees, of course, could then move all of their communications over to sign language, but then the IG could simply install surveillance cameras in every office and hire thousands of sign language translators. And so on.