First Round: Kidney kicks SEC

First Round has, of course, experienced its fair share of embarrassing leaving parties. Many’s the time it has woken up the morning after, clad only in a clammy fug of recrimination and regret (albeit these have normally been of the ‘nobody showing up’ variety; and to be fair, it’s hard to get logistics sorted while you’re being escorted out of the building by security).

And as regular readers will know, there are very few magazine intro sections on the planet more willing to speak truth to power than this one.

So it was heartened to read former SEC lawyer James Kidney sounding relatively unabashed after a speech he made at his own leaving do – in which he hammered his soon-to-be-ex-employer – became headline news on Bloomberg. 

Clearly deciding to go out in a blaze of glory, Kidney – who apparently during his time at the SEC had worked on a number of high-profile Wall Street cases, notably its 2010 pursuit of Goldman Sachs – took his final opportunity to give the US watchdog a very public kicking, arguing that it’s not being aggressive enough in its pursuit of pinstripe-clad ne’er-do-wells.

According to Bloomberg, Kidney said the SEC had become “an agency that polices the broken windows on the street level and rarely goes to the penthouse floors,” run by “tentative and fearful” bosses who were only there to “punch their ticket”, issuing penalties that were “at most a tollbooth on the bankster turnpike”. You tell ’em, JK!

Apparently Kidney’s home truths were met with applause from the 70-strong crowd (which included some of said bosses). And Kidney told Bloomberg that he “hadn’t heard any blowback” subsequently. Although given that he’s now free to potter around his garden, or play nine holes every morning, or catch up on episodes of The Good Wife, or whatever retired lawyers do, First Round imagines he wouldn’t be that bothered if he did.