While debate rages over whether Cox's reforms created the atmosphere that produced the Enron/Andersen scandal, it seems unlikely those companies' executives will elude prosecution faced with such intense media and public scrutiny. But in congressional testimony, we've already witnessed Enron's CEO and vice president of human resources employ the "Whoops, I forgot" defense. And what about all those other Enrons out there the American public doesn't know about that may be using the Cox reforms to escape prosecution every day?
In a recent National Review Online interview, Cox said his reforms' new responsibilities on auditors to report wrongdoing might help Enron shareholders and employees because "Andersen remains a deep pocket, where Enron probably isn't."
Cox certainly knows how deep Andersen's pockets are. Federal Elections Commission data show that between 1989 and 2001, Andersen's employees and political-action committee gave Cox $21,750—three times more than their combined contributions to the rest of Orange County's congressional delegation. Between 1995 and 2000, Cox received $125,109 from the accounting industry, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Too bad for them that money may soon go to waste; that "band of amoral plaintiff lawyers" are now saying securities laws should be rolled back to their pre-1995 state. A lot of Americans are listening.