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Suit seeks names of SEC workers disciplined for viewing pornography on the job

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By Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Denver lawyer is suing the Securities and Exchange Commission for the names of agency workers disciplined in the past five years for viewing pornography on government computers.

Kevin D. Evans filed suit in federal court in Denver on Friday, accusing the agency of violating federal law by not disclosing the names of 33 current and former employees and contractors who viewed pornographic images while on the job. Evans said he is offended by their actions and is tired of government waste and abuse.

"What these individuals did is the equivalent of falsely billing a client (in this case taxpayers like you and me)," Evans said in an e-mail. "If one does this in private practice one has disciplinary action taken against one, and if the fraud is large enough there is the potential for additional action. Lawyers should not be excused simply because they work for the government."

Evans said that if he wins the case, he will release the list of names and that he hopes to deter other federal employees from doing something similar by identifying the porn-surfing workers.

"There is no real deterrence without knowing that one's name will be exposed if one engages in such abuse of taxpayer resources and trust," said Evans, who represented the U.S. Olympic Committee in connection with the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics scandal.

An investigation by SEC Inspector General H. David Kotz discovered the workers' pornography-viewing habits. None of the employees and contractors caught was fired, the agency said. Eight workers resigned, six were suspended, six were issued informal counseling or warning letters, five received formal reprimands, and three are on suspension.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) is seeking salary and disciplinary information for each worker and contractor to learn why they faced different levels of discipline. The agency has not answered Grassley's questions, his office said.

The agency did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday. SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro expressed "disgust" with the workers' actions at a congressional hearing last month and said the agency would deal with the issue "swiftly and severely."

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