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White House Dismisses Pitt's Raise Request

The White House on Wednesday dismissed a request by Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt for a raise and a higher profile, calling it a "potential distraction."

Pitt, under fire for his ties to the accounting industry at a time of corporate accounting scandals, had asked lawmakers to add a provision to corporate governance legislation that would elevate his office to the same rank as Cabinet posts and give him a raise of nearly 21 percent, from $138,200 to $166,700.

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said President Bush was focused on getting more resources and personnel for the SEC to investigate corporate abuse.

As for Pitt's request, "We view this as a potential distraction from that important business," she said.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the provision was unlikely to be added to the corporate governance legislation as an amendment.

House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican, emerged from a breakfast meeting with Bush to say that Congress was looking for ways to improve the SEC and not "to elevate any one person."