Here’s another arena in which a little bit of transparency (as a means to oversight) would go a really long way. In what looks like a really terrific book — Fooling Some of the People All of the Time: A Long Short Story — investor David Einhorn tells the story of corporate malfeasance and government looking the other way. (Wonder why? Read the book but I suspect this might have something to do with it.
The story you are about to read exposes the grim realities of unchecked corporate misconduct by a bad company and the failures of proper regulatory oversight. . . . The story I am telling is one that has been surprising and unexpected – even to me. I think it is important and needs to be told. This book reveals some serious problems in the regulatory landscape that I am in a unique place to discuss. I care that the SEC and other regulators seem to have stopped enforcing laws against corporate malfeasance. I care that company officials can lie with impunity on public conference calls. And I have been appalled that the government officials overseeing the lending programs that Allied has defrauded are so indifferent and unwilling to act even when presented with clear evidence of abuse. The overall lack of law enforcement is startling.
If we are going to permit the retribution against the whistleblowers shown in this story – defamation, investigation, invasion of privacy and so forth – then we surrender public free speech. If we allow the people in this story to operate outside the law, then we nourish a corrupt business culture. Rather than turn a blind eye to the fraud I witnessed, I made a decision to stand up and speak out despite the consequences. I hope my story inspires regulators and government agencies to do the right thing
The book’s gotten some terrific reviews. And half the profits from the book (it was released two days ago and it’s already No. 40 at Amazon) are going to two Watchdog Group that Sunlight knows well – POGO and the Center for Public Integrity – because absent government these two nonprofits are among the best in keeping their eyes on this kind of bad behavior.