Patterico's Pontifications


L.A. Times Finally Admits that the President Can Fire the SEC Chair After All

Filed under: 2008 Election,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 4:18 pm

It turns out that the President can indeed fire the Chair of the SEC after all.

After the L.A. Times and many others wrote that the President has no such authority, I sent a complaint to the L.A. Times on September 23. I cited case law holding that the Chair can be removed for no reason at all — and that even in his lesser role as Commissioner, he can be fired for cause. As I said in my letter to The Times:

[A] President can remove a commissioner — but only for cause. Meanwhile, according to the D.C. Circuit case I provide above, the Chair himself serves at the President’s pleasure, meaning he can be removed for any reason or no reason.

It’s true that the Chair serves a dual role as commissioner and Chair. But even if the President needs “cause” to fire Cox in his role as commissioner, he still can fire Cox. If I can fire you for cause, it’s wrong to say I can’t fire you at all.

I subsequently exchanged some e-mails with Doyle McManus, the author of the story, and he agreed to read the cases I had provided and discuss them with other editors.

Yesterday, the L.A. Times issued this correction:

SEC Chairman: Articles in Section A on Sept. 19 and 20 about the financial rescue plan said the president could not fire the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The statute governing the SEC does not explicitly give the president the authority to fire the commission’s members. However, federal courts have held that the president can remove members of independent commissions like the SEC “for cause,” including “inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.” The president can also demote the chairman of the SEC without removing him or her from the commission.

The correction does not make it clear that the demotion can occur for any reason, because the Chair serves at the President’s pleasure. However, I am still pleased to see the paper acknowledge that, as I previously argued, the President can indeed fire the Chair of the SEC.

The correction comes 10 days after I sent my letter — and too late to do much good. Because the L.A. Times and Jake Tapper failed to issue quick corrections, the public will likely remember this as a gaffe by McCain — one in which he foolishly spoke of exercising a power that he wouldn’t have as President. The fact remains, however, that whatever you think of McCain’s idea of firing Cox, he wasn’t wrong to say he could. (He was wrong to later backtrack, on 60 Minutes, and claim that he couldn’t. But in so doing, he merely was caving to the media’s Conventional Wisdom, which now turns out to have been wrong, as it often is.)

36 Responses to “L.A. Times Finally Admits that the President Can Fire the SEC Chair After All”

  1. I have a question for you: Who in hell cares?

    Magic Dog (eb8aef)

  2. Congratulations!

    Just another nail in the coffin,
    it will take quite a few more.

    AOracle (28e671)

  3. I have a question for you: Who in hell cares?

    Everyone should care — if they care about the impact that the media has on this election.

    The L.A. Times, New York Times, Toronto Star, McClatchy newspapers, Huffington Post, Jake Tapper of ABC, and a host of others “reported” that McCain couldn’t fire the SEC chair.

    Turns out he could.

    You can say you don’t care that the entire frigging media world screwed up a basic fact in attacking McCain. But I do. It demonstrates why people need to think for themselves and not just accept what the media says — even if it’s being repeated by outlets across the country.

    Hell, even McCain ended up caving. He had been right — but you can’t fight the media when they’re all saying the same thing.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  4. Patterico, nice to see you back. I know you’ve been pretty busy between your job and keeping up the servers, but would you PLEASE see what you can do about some of these trolls??? (cough*jharp*cough)

    And also please check your e-mail, as I’ve written to you about this and another topic.

    qdpsteve (64c4ed)

  5. Once again, Patterico, we see that the press is very much like Alex Trebek in Jeopardy!

    People think that Trebek knows the answers. But that is only because he has the answer card in front of him.

    And HE didn’t research the subject, nor write the answer on that card—he is just reading it, as if he is some kind of brainiac authority.

    So it is with the press. And so it is with this election. The Narrative is more important the Facts.

    But don’t worry, everyone. Katy Couric and Charlie Gibson (and Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, to be fair) know what you ought to think. They certainly tell you so, don’t they?

    They don’t know any more than you do, and often less. Trust your own judgement, based on your own research.

    Of course, the DNC and RNC don’t want that, do they?

    Eric Blair (2708f4)

  6. I care. I enjoy every single time the press has to admit they actually no clue what they were talking about, since they set themselves up as objective “fact-checkers”.

    Every one of these moments brings us closer to the death of a fake vocation.

    Tim (cb62c4)

  7. Yeah, who cares about understanding the powers of the President and government?


    My guess (just a hunch now) is that the same people who think that judges should base their decisions on “fairness” and not the Constitution or law think this is no big deal.

    And their vote is equal to those of us who try to be informed citizens.

    Damned right; life ain’t fair.

    SteveMG (096212)

  8. McCain’s caving is reminiscent of the old joke “I’m never wrong. One time I thought I was wrong, but I was mistaken.”

    Xrlq (0ff900)

  9. I care.

    Good work, Patterico.

    Beldar (92c761)

  10. Eric Blair – Trust your own judgement, based on your own research.

    Of course, the DNC and RNC don’t want that, do they?

    Which might explain the state of education in this country. Excessive dropout rates, despite the introduction in the past decade of the single greatest research tool in Mankind’s history. Students aren’t rewarded for doing their own research, they’re punished, as the emphasis is on political correctness and ‘conforming’.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  11. This is good news. Hats off to you, Patterico, for tenacity. These habitual errors of the LAT underscores how much the media has sought to influence and yes, control this election.

    Of course had the LAt been more interested in journalistic integrity they would have made the correction just as soon as they verified your evidence. Ten days after the fact tells us all we need to know.

    Dana (973491)

  12. I am slowly and reluctantly coming to the conclusion that the press may well succeed in putting this empty suit in the White House. I agree that we have to keep pushing but it does get discouraging to see Biden get away with all that BS while 30 lawyers are going through Palin’s garbage in Wasilla. The Ayres connection will barely be mentioned. I’m glad to see Palin bringing it up and I woulod like to see her and Todd go back to Michigan and make another push there but it’s hard to swim upstream.

    MIke K (155601)

  13. well said, mikek. the media is absolutely shameless.

    bluered (d2316b)

  14. Mike, the Ayers connection will only be brought up if McCain’s campaign makes it impossible to be ignored any longer. He has no other choice at this point – if the MSM resolutely refuses to do their appropriate job of vetting The Messiah, then make them do it, whether they want to or not.

    Dmac (cc81d9)

  15. By the time November rolls around, the trillion dollar bailout will be entirely a Bush thing. “Congress, what’s that?”

    jpm100 (b48b29)

  16. Good work, Pat!

    The day of this particular MSM “news” ad blitz in support of Obama, I heard abc radio report hourly – baldly, on only their own authority – that ~ “The President cannot fire the SEC Director”.

    One of the reporters was Charlie Gibson: he did the same thing that he accused McCain of.

    J. Peden (3deb91)

  17. Palin appeared before 15,000 people in Carson today. In the bluest state There were 15-30 Obama protesters. There was outrage that she would try to appear on lefty blogs.

    MIke K (155601)

  18. “Who in hell cares?” The left cares none for the truth, if the republican or the right can be damaged.

    dualdiagnosis (c079f0)

  19. McCain and Palin must do the job the Obama sack snffing media won’t do:

    Start exposing Obamas past and force the Obama pole smokers to defend his assocations.

    Dan Tana (218dba)

  20. I’m sure it’d be ruled an unconstitutional violation of the first amendment, but I’ve always felt it’d be wonderful if there was a law requiring that retractions/corrections be printed in the same location as the story involved.

    Taltos (4dc0e8)

  21. How does this change anything? Does McCain have any grounds to fire Cox “for cause”? I dont think so. So the fact remains – McCain, were he president, would have no power to fire Cox, unless he had some evidence of malfeasance.
    He could demote him – thats about it. But that is not what he proposed doing.

    JoeCitizen (d2928e)

  22. How does this change anything? Does McCain have any grounds to fire Cox “for cause”? I dont think so.

    Cause or not for cause – both are probably still legally viable for the President – the case would likely end up in court. Think it over.

    At best, the MSM presented their politically loaded opinion as fact. Consider changing your model for assessing what is reported as news.

    J. Peden (6296db)

  23. I care. I also care that the Dems in Congress are going after the President because they feel Justice Department lawyers should be able to set their own priorities and objectives in disregard of those of their boss. Ridiculous.

    Fred Beloit (15d9a8)

  24. How can the President fire the chaitman of the SEC, when he can’t fire US Attorneys that won’t do their jobs?

    L. Liesner (47f1dc)

  25. Mccain still cant fire a SEC Commisisoner because he doesnt like him

    its not ALASKA!

    you are still a fucking idiot

    nick werle (04803c)

  26. Comment by nick werle — 10/5/2008 @ 10:19 am

    Wow, nick’s a multi-tasker.
    He was able to post this while giving a BJ to Barack!

    disgusted (e6d3fc)

  27. how could I give a BJ when you
    wont give up your place in line?

    Fact – Bush can not fire Cox.

    nick werle (04803c)

  28. Hey, the commissioner of the Southeast Conference is going a great job. They have had two national champs in a row, a new television contract, and they put on great games every week. And the SEC has more depth than any other conference, as evidenced by Vandy/Auburn yesterday.

    Anyway, McCain should have more important things to worry about.

    Roscoe (a058ca)

  29. nick, so you are saying that you don’t understand the issue at all but feel compelled to tell us how little you know?

    SPQR (26be8b)

  30. ‘Looks like you had to dig pretty darn deep to find those examples Patterico. I never read those sites myself. ‘Betcha they’re just being mavericky anyway.

    Call out The Guard when MSNBC, CNN or one of the big media are crying racism.

    Psyberian (37b2ae)

  31. Sorry abotu that. My comment, #30, should have been on another thread: “Any Argument Against Barack Obama Is By Definition Racist.”

    Psyberian (37b2ae)

  32. The government throws a party and nobody comes …

    Fears are mounting that many Wall Street banks and financial firms will refuse to participate in the US government’s $700bn bail-out package, leaving global markets and world economies in a perilous state for months to come.

    ‘There is a growing feeling that banks … might instead decide to tough it out,’ said Thomas Caldwell, chairman and CEO of Caldwell Financial, a $1bn-plus fund manager.

    Neo (cba5df)

  33. Comment by Neo — 10/5/2008 @ 8:43 pm

    Well, we’ll find out starting at 0930ET!

    AOracle (735e6c)

  34. mccain campaign “we would exert pressure”

    When asked how can they would fire someone whom the president cant fire !

    nick werle (04803c)

  35. Nick, rather obvious that you don’t understand the issue. Evidently that does not stop you from proving your ignorance.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  36. Magic Dog wrote: I have a question for you: Who in hell cares?

    If the MSM cares enough to lie about it, ALL OF US should care enough to correct the record.

    Now, “Dog,” sit. STAY!

    L.N. Smithee (b048eb)

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