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April 23rd, 2010
03:58 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Viewing Porn on the Job

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Instead of watching Wall Street, some staffers at the Securities and Exchange Commission were watching porn. An investigation by the SEC's Inspector General reveals 33 employees or contractors at the agency were using government computers on official time to view pornography. All the cases took place in the past five years and more than half the workers in question made between $99,000 to $223,000.

In one instance, a senior attorney at SEC headquarters admitted to downloading pornography up to eight hours a day. The attorney downloaded so much porn on his government computer that he used up all the space on the hard drive and downloaded it to CDs or DVDs that he put in boxes in his office, the report said.

Another staffer tried to access pornographic websites nearly 1,800 times, using her SEC laptop over a two-week period. According to the report, she also had about 600 pornographic images saved on the hard drive.

A SEC spokesman said the employees involved have been disciplined or are being disciplined. Some have been suspended or dismissed.

Rep. Darrell Issa , R-Calif., the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said "it is nothing short of disturbing that high-ranking officials within the SEC were spending more time looking at pornography than taking action to help stave off the events that brought our nation's economy to the brink of collapse."

"This stunning report should make everyone question the wisdom of moving forward with plans to give regulators like the SEC even more widespread authority," Issa added.

Do you agree?

We've also got the raw politics of Arizona's controversial new law aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration. Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the measure today over the objection of hundreds of people who've rallied against the bill at the state capitol over the past several days.

The legislation requires police to question people about their immigration status if there is a reason to suspect they are illegal immigrants. Previously, officers could only check someone's immigrations status if that person was suspected of a crime. Under this new law, immigrants must carry their alien registration documents with them at all times.

Critics say the bill will lead to racial profiling, while supporters say it will protect America against illegal immigration.

The governor addressed both at today's ceremony.

"Today, with my unwavering signature on this legislation, Arizona strengthens its security within our borders. Let me be clear, though. My signature today represents my steadfast support for enforcing the law. Both against illegal immigration and against racial profiling,” Gov. Brewer said.

The governor signed the legislation despite the outrage by critics, including Pres. Obama who called it "misguided."

Pres. Obama, though, admits the federal government must take action on immigration.

"Our failure to act responsible at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others. That includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona which threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe," the president said.

Join us for these stories and much more tonight on 360° starting at 10 p.m. ET. See you then.


Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Vicky

    Porn at theSEC. just a small view of the country, possibly the world. No agency, school, or business can be blamed, It's the people. The sex obsorbed people. The only thing that can be done is to have consequences, and follow through. If people want to keep their jobs they will stop. If not they should be fired. I worked for the gov, and each year we were given training on this. We knew we were being monitored, some people just don't care. Pathetic!!!

    April 23, 2010 at 10:29 pm |
  2. Erik

    If people want to look at porn that is their prerogitive ....... untill I am paying for that time. I have no desire to pay someone to download porn to a computer that was purchased with my tax dollars. If at the end of the day they want to take the paycheck they have "earned" and buy thier own computer and then download whatever then go ahead. I feel this is an act the same as theft or fraud. Isn't that what they were hire to stop?

    April 23, 2010 at 10:28 pm |
  3. Noel

    It doesn't matter how long this has been going on. What matters is that we[ the citizens] have been paying them to look at and download porn while "working" for us! Everyone involved needs to be fired on the spot and pay back every dime that they took while they weren't doing their jobs!!!

    April 23, 2010 at 10:26 pm |
  4. Bill

    Government Employees do not have to produce results that
    justify their existence or the money they make. They do not
    have to answer for what they do, and did not require Madoff
    to answer for what he did. It is easy to see why they burn
    time at their jobs with diversions like surfing the net for porn.
    Imagine what other diversions are in practice that may even
    be accepted by their superiors.

    April 23, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  5. richard

    In most jurisdictions, if it is discovered that someone has viewed illegal material (obscene, child porn, etc.) it is required that the matter be reported to police. For all the porn being viewed, I suspect at least some of the material would have been illegal. I haven't heard that anyone is being investigated or prosecuted in this matter.

    April 23, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  6. Amanda

    I work for state government and you'd be appalled to know how much so called Internet filters don't filter. I've seen people on youtube and other inappropriate sites. It's sad that some people in government give those of us who work hard a bad name. SEC should have more authority to stop the wall street bad guys. Just because some of them are bad workers doesn't mean they all are.

    April 23, 2010 at 10:08 pm |
  7. Disgusted

    They should have been forced to pay back their salary and terminated. This is TRULY disgusting and a slap in the face of american citizens.

    While they were watching Porn – Bernie Madoff ripped off so many, Lehman Brothers crumbled.

    This occurred in 2008 – Bush – Cheney Era Of Disaster, so before you blame Mary Shaprio get the facts.

    April 23, 2010 at 10:07 pm |
  8. Peter Marks

    Where were the IT's (Internet Technicians) when this was happening as private businesses have IT's to block porn sites on computers. This shows irresponsiblity on the part of the Mary Shapiro the chairman of the SEC, who appears to not be capable of handling the job. There is no excuse for this and the Mary Shapiro is ultmately responsible. Wiil any action be taken against the her? No, because she is a friend of Obama.

    April 23, 2010 at 8:39 pm |
  9. alan

    This is a prime example as to why individuals are furious about taxes. These are employees funded by tax payer dollars and are overpaid for a job they aren't doing. This is not an isolated incident and exists all over the government. Amazing how we can keep raising taxes though to fund this all.

    April 23, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  10. Annie Kate

    I'm surprised that the SEC computers could access these sites to begin with and that so many of the personnel did it. There are ways to block the computers from accessing sites like the pornographic sites from computers on a network at a work institution. If the SEC isn't blocking the sites, then are any of the government regulartory agencies doing it – this could easily happen in any of the offices if there aren't measures to prevent it. I don't know about giving them more to oversee but I also don't know which regulatory office would be better to do so.

    April 23, 2010 at 8:17 pm |