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November 1, 2001

Unger's Departure Strains the SEC

By Gregory Bresiger

Laura Unger, who had been acting chair man of the Securities and Exchange Commission for a few months earlier this year, has resigned. This leaves the SEC severely understaffed.

"I was privileged to return to the agency where I began my career, to serve as a commissioner and later as acting chairman," Unger said in a resignation statement. "It is particularly difficult to leave my colleagues on the Commission - our new Chairman, Harvey Pitt and my fellow Commissioner, Issac Hunt - as well as the many dedicated and talented professionals who work tirelessly at the SEC on behalf of the investing public."

Market Integrity

Unger's years on the SEC were marked by her championing of policies that were designed to promote market integrity, efficiency and investor protection.

She also investigated analyst bias and conflicts of interest. In November 1999, she wrote the report on technology and retail brokerage, "Online Brokerage: Keeping Apace of Cyberspace."

Chairman Pitt praised Unger's years of public service. "Over the past four years, Laura has served in stellar fashion, first as a member of the commission, then for half a year in the arduous and demanding role of acting chair. Her performance and leadership are well-known and appreciated by all," Pitt said.

Unger's resignation leaves the five-member commission with three unfilled seats. Another commissioner, Paul Carey, the son of former New York Governor Hugh Carey, died last July after a long illness.

Unger was sworn in as a commissioner on Nov. 5, 1997. And from Feb. 12 to Aug. 3 of this year she was acting chairman of the SEC.

She has previously served as an attorney in the SEC's Enforcement Division. She also served as the legal counsel to the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Development. In that capacity, she advised Committee Chairman Senator Alfonse D'Amato.

Commissioner

President Bush is expected to promptly fill at least one of the open seats on the SEC. A published report said he is preparing to name Denise Voigt Crawford, a Texas Democrat, to one of the openings. The commission, which is down to two members, is barred from making policy without at least two commissioners in residence. SEC rules also bar more than three commissioners coming from one political party.

Unger, who didn't mention her future plans, is expected to go into private sector legal work.