Like many governmental agencies, the SEC is never short of critics. The agency usually takes that criticism in stride – but one critic appears to be targeting individual Staff members online. A Claims Journal article says that the SEC thinks that crosses the line, and is taking some extraordinary steps to address potential reputational damage:
Elon Musk mocked it as the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission.” Billionaire Mark Cuban said it’s “useless.” Hedge fund legend Leon Cooperman called it “abusive.” For the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, such attacks come with the territory. But brushing them off is getting harder in the age of social media. One online foe has so troubled the agency’s staff that it’s made the remarkable move of seeking to hire an expert to burnish their images.
The contractor’s duties will include monitoring content about employees in the SEC’s vaunted enforcement division on the web and removing anything that’s “false or harmful,” according to a July 22 posting on a federal job site. The listing didn’t name the detractor, but the individual isn’t a well-known executive like Musk or Cuban, said a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified. The SEC accused the mystery adversary of violating securities laws, and the individual started assailing agency officials online, while taking steps to ensure Google and other search engines picked up the critiques.
While individual crackpots weren’t unheard of in the past, the article quotes John Reed Stark as saying that “before social media accounts became ubiquitous, most threats were confined to stock message boards.” Now everyone’s online, including most of the Staff – and that makes them easier targets for trolls.
-John Jenkins, TheCorporateCounsel.net, August 13, 2019