3 More SEC Employees Investigated for Viewing Porn on the Job

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Published May 31, 2011

| FOXBusiness

The inspector general of the Securities and Exchange Commission said Tuesday his office has investigated three more SEC employees, including two staff attorneys, and an agency contractor for using their government computers to view pornography.

According to the latest semi-annual report from SEC inspector general David Kotz to Congress, his office also looked into charges that an employee at the SEC’s Washington headquarters told investors last year that a company that the agency charged with running a Ponzi scheme was legitimate; the employee was himself an investor with the company and was put on administrative leave pending further investigation.

Kotz also investigated a lawyer in a regional office for allegedly disclosing confidential information about an FBI informant in a case. As of the end of March, the agency had not acted on his recommendation that the lawyer be disciplined.

Kotz told Congress that the agency’s information technology security group gave him “lists of SEC employees or contractors who had numerous attempts to access pornographic websites from SEC computers” that were blocked by the agency’s Internet filter. But in some instances, “they successfully accessed pornography or inappropriate material.”

Kotz’s report covers Oct. 1 last year to March 31 this year. In four instances, Kotz wrote, his office found the actions serious enough to open investigations:

--a staff accountant at SEC headquarters invoked the Fifth Amendment and declined to testify after the agency’s computer security office alleged he used his government computer “hundreds of times” in attempts to view porn and was successful at viewing “numerous” sexually-explicit photographs. “Many…were accessed during normal SEC working hours,” the report said. As of the end of the reporting period, SEC managers were proposing the accountant’s “removal.”

--earlier this year, SEC officials also proposed removing a staff attorney in Washington for allegedly viewing about 70 photos of partially- or fully-nude women on his agency computer. He also declined to testify and, as of the end of March, SEC officials had proposed he be removed from his job.

--a second staff attorney resigned after being investigated for accessing porn, including searching for porn “during normal SEC work hours.”

--an SEC contractor admitted to investigators that he had been looking at porn on his government computer for a year and a half. Earlier this year, “management had the contractor escorted from the building and removed from the SEC contract.”

The SEC has been battling porn on government computers for several years, as have other government departments and agencies. At the SEC, Kotz has opened more than two dozen investigations involving computer porn; after further investigation by agency officials, most of the employees charged have been dismissed or voluntarily resigned.

An SEC spokesperson declined to comment on the cases. Kotz declined further comment.

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