SEC Chair Schapiro Cites Serious Domestic Business For Cancelling Flight To Beijing

May 19, 2012

SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro (right) and Commissioner Elisse Walter (left). Possibly discussing who gets the frequent flyer miles for Schapiro's cancelled flight to Beijing. Or perhaps Schapiro is asking that Walter bring her back a t-shirt from the event, preferably with a panda but, if not, get me a small, in red, with the Great Wall on it.

Talk about an ominous comment.  Talk about a pregnant remark. Wow, consider this intriguing tidbit.

On May 16, 2012, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Schapiro was scheduled to address the the 37th International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) Annual Conference in Beijing, China.  As many "Street Sweeper" readers know, I'm not a fan of all these far-flung conferences to which taxpayers send far too many government officials; see "One Day In the Life Of Lanny Breuer (the Moscow Anti-Corruption Summit)" (Street Sweeper, March 17, 2011) for one such broadside.

Seems to me that in this age of Facebook, that it should be just as efficient to "friend" most of the folks at these meetings, attend via Skype or WebEx, or just buy everyone an iPad or iPhone and set up a conference call.

As you likely imagined, I wasn't particularly thrilled to see that the SEC just published a press releaseabout Schapiro's anticipated attendance at the 37thIOSCO conference until I noticed that she hadn't attended - it was actually Commissioner Elisse B. Walter who showed up in her place. As I read through Commissioner Walter's remarks, I came upon this jaw-dropping revelation:

As most of you know, our Chairman Mary Schapiro was slated to be with you today. She has asked me to send her heartfelt apologies for the fact that serious domestic business required her to stay at home because she couldn't be out of touch for the hours of flying time necessary to reach this beautiful and historic city.

Okay, let's see, Chair Schapiro apparently cancelled her appearance in Beijing at the last minute. Why? According to Commissioner Walter the SEC's Chair is involved in "serious domestic business." How serious? Serious enough to miss out on this lovely junket to China - and serious enough that Schapiro can't "be out of touch for the hours of flying time" to Beijing. How long is such a flight? Ahh, I looked it up online and learned that it's 13 hours.

Okay, let's see, what the hell is so serious that the head of the SEC can't travel for 13 hours to the annual IOSCO conference?

JP Morgan?


The allegations of misconduct by current and former employees in the SEC's Office of the Inspector General?

The Euro crisis?

NASDAQ's Facebook IPO launch problems?

Place your bets but just remember to give me credit for breaking this fascinating story here first.