Yesterday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) met with top brass at Goldman Sachs at the Willard Hotel to discuss implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial reform. So what happened? We wish we could tell you. When The Examiner called the SEC to ask for comment or for any notes from the meeting, they said that they would not comment and could neither confirm nor deny a meeting with Goldman. “But we know it happened,” I told the press officer. “No comment.”
How do we know a meeting happened? From Politico’s Morning Money:
Top Wall Street CEOs were in D.C. yesterday to meet privately with top regulators at the Willard hotel. Much of the discussion centered on Dodd-Frank implementation. The meeting was closed to press, but our spies say chief executives including Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase and Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs expressed relief that they at least now know what the new rules of the road are going to be (even if they don’t always agree with them).
There couldn’t have been much confidential discussed in this meeting if two competitors were in the room. But what makes this worse is this line from a press release back in July:
Staff will ask those who request meetings to provide, prior to the meeting, an agenda of intended topics for discussion. After the meeting, the agenda will become part of the public record.
According to this, the SEC has pledged full transparency then — in fact, if you go to the public comment page for Dodd-Frank, you’ll see that they do provide memoranda based on meetings they have with “interested parties.” But the public affairs officer’s reluctance to confirm or deny the meeting as reported in Politico shows a gaping loophole: There’s no way to know whether a meeting took place unless they decide to tell us. And so far, they haven’t told us.