SEC Commissioner Earns Praise for Service to Investors, Entrepreneurs

Washington, D.C., August
4, 2008—On Aug. 1, Paul S. Atkins ended his six-year term as Commissioner
of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Competitive Enterprise
Institute President Fred L. Smith, Jr.,
and director of CEI’s Center for Entrepreneurship John Berlau commend
Atkins’ devoted service to investors and entrepreneurs.

“Whether you were a small investor looking to build your
nest egg by exercising your judgment on risk and return, or a small
entrepreneur seeking public capital to build your innovative new business, Paul
Atkins was looking out for you,” says Berlau. “He was a great advocate for
publicly-traded companies and their shareholders, primarily because he realized
that the interests of these two parties weren’t necessarily contradictory. He
argued forcefully that legitimate investors and entrepreneurs suffer when
regulatory burdens take away from a company’s focus on shareholder return."

Smith and Berlau both praise the vigorous economic research
conducted by Atkins and his staff to determine the economic consequences of SEC
policies. They note that dissenting votes on rules governing hedge funds and
mutual funds by Atkins and then-Commissioner Cynthia Glassman were vindicated
when federal courts overturned these SEC decisions. And they also hail Atkins
success at persuading the SEC to stop levying large corporate fines that punish
a company’s shareholders for the bad acts of individual executives.

“He recognized early on that these fines make shareholders
pay twice for corporate fraud,” Berlau said. “The SEC policy has been largely
changed to punish individual actors rather than the company as a whole, due in
substantial part to Commissioner Atkins’ arguments.”

Smith says Atkins’ good work will continue. “Paul Atkins
went into the public sector never forgetting the dynamism of the private
sector. As a result, he remained in touch with the investors and entrepreneurs
he was there to serve. He utilized his private-sector experience to provide a
vital check on a large bureaucracy, and he will continue to be an important
voice on public policy.”

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