Harvey L. Pitt, President Bush's apparent choice to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, is a high-profile securities lawyer who is well-regarded on Wall Street and in Washington regulatory circles.
But Pitt's resume and the legal cases he has taken worry some experts, who fear that he could oversee a dilution of the investor-protection and corporate-accountability initiatives adopted by the SEC in the 1990s.
President Bush is expected to announce Pitt's nomination as early as this week after a lengthy search for a new chairman of the agency that regulates financial markets.
Pitt, 56, is a Washington-based partner at New York law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. He has been a key voice on some of the most prominent and controversial issues affecting Wall Street in recent years.
Pitt also has regulatory experience: He was SEC general counsel from 1975 to 1978 in the final four years of a decade-long stint at the agency.
Since going into private practice in 1978, he has represented major brokerage firms, the New York Stock Exchange and infamous insider trader Ivan Boesky, among other marquee names.
If approved by the Senate, Pitt, a Republican, would succeed Arthur Levitt, who stepped down as SEC chief in February.
Levitt, a Democrat, pushed through a battery of market reforms during his 7 1/2-year tenure and built a reputation as a fierce protector of the rights of individual investors.
Levitt also fought to clean up potential conflicts of interest in the accounting industry, and last year pushed through a controversial rule -- Regulation FD -- barring companies from giving sensitive information to favored investors before the general public hears it.
Pitt's background representing Wall Street clients has raised concern that he might lack the same commitment as Levitt to small-investor issues.
Indeed, Pitt has been critical of Regulation FD, which was opposed by many U.S. companies and by Wall Street. And Pitt directly fought Levitt on accounting industry reform. As counsel to the industry, Pitt helped major accounting firms succeed in significantly weakening Levitt's original reform proposal.
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