A Failure to Supervise

One need not look far to find examples of our government’s animosity towards businessmen. In the midst of all the injustice perpetrated by the government against business, it is all too easy to succumb to perpetual indignation. One can become engrossed by all that is wrong with the world to the extent that one has trouble enjoying the good. And while the SEC’s recent charges against billionaire Steve Cohen are far from “good,” they do provide an opportunity for amusement, if only through the irony of the situation.

For some period of time, the Department of Justice has been attempting tie hedge fund manager Steve Cohen to insider trading – an act that needs to have its criminality rationally reevaluated in the context of individual rights. These investigative efforts have proven continually unsuccessful. Due to the shortcomings in the DOJ’s case, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has opted to pursue an alternative means of prosecution.

On Friday, July 19, Forbes reported that the SEC has filed civil charges against Cohen for a “failure to supervise.” The article explains the charge as follows:

“Failure to supervise means the individual, Cohen in this case, knew or should have known something bad was happening. Cohen can’t argue that he didn’t know he had the responsibility to oversee the alleged insider trading because the response will be ‘you should have known.’”

At face value, the charge – which carries no risk for incarceration – is nothing but an attempt by the SEC to circumvent the justice system and punish a man despite the fact that he cannot be convicted for criminal activity (actual or invented). The charge is abhorrent, and Cohen ought to be cleared of it.

But in the face of a summer of scandal for the Obama administration, the charge of “failure to supervise” has an almost comical hypocrisy to it. While Obama’s SEC is pursuing Cohen on the grounds that he did know or at least should have known of the alleged criminal activity in his business, it is disappointing that similarly strict standards are not being applied in our own federal government.

How often have accusations that President Obama knew or should have known that the embassy in Benghazi did not meet State Department safety standards been brushed aside? The same could be said about the political targeting by the IRS, the EPA’s release of farmers’ personal information to environmentalist groups, the DOJ’s gunrunning operation, Eric Holder’s involvement in Fast and Furious, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ inappropriate requests for insurance companies to ‘donate’ to the support of their own regulatory body, and numerous other scandals.

“Failure to supervise” may not be an impeachable offense any more than it ought to be a civil charge, but in the case of assigning political blame for political scandals, it is only reasonable that the individual at the head of our nation’s bureaucracy should accept fault for such pervasive and dangerous errors committed beneath him, and perhaps see the irony in a ‘failure to supervise’ charge leveled by an executive that has done anything but.

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