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One year ago, on Aug. 3, Harvey L. Pitt was confirmed by the Senate as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and he has been playing catch-up ever since. In those intervening 12 months, scandals have erupted at an alphabet soup of companies–including WorldCom, Xerox, Global Crossing, Qwest Communications, Arthur Andersen, Merrill Lynch, Salomon Smith Barney, KPMG, Adelphia, Halliburton and, of course, Enron. Pitt has also gotten himself into hot water, becoming as much a target as the executives his SEC investigators are scrutinizing. The charge against him? He is soft on corporate types whom he used to represent when he was a top-rung, highly compensated corporate lawyer. New York’s Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who has been conducting his own inquiries into Wall Street hanky-panky, described the SEC as asleep at the wheel because of an “absolute void of leadership.”

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