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December 1, 2002

Who Said He's Gone?

By Gregory Bresiger

Harvey Pitt resigned last month but, media reports aside, he was continuing to preside as chairman of the SEC. In fact, he could continue in that position for many months.

In a letter to President Bush, he wrote that his resignation is "effective as soon as I can help you ensure a smooth transfer of leadership."

An SEC spokesman said that Pitt continues to "preside and vote at meetings." And how long will that be? A White House spokesman said no timetable has been set for naming Pitt's replacement. How quickly it could take place depends on many factors.

If President Bush names one of the SEC commissioners as Pitt's successor that person could immediately become acting chairman. However, if the president goes outside the commission for a replacement, as is commonly speculated, then it could be many months of difficult and possibly controversial confirmation hearings. "Six months is what I would expect," said one industry lobbyist.