Harvey Pitt's Path to Resignation

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt resigned Tuesday after 15 months in office that were marked by a series of political missteps. The following chronology lists some of the high and low points from Pitt's period in office:


Aug. 3 - Pitt, a former high flying securities attorney whose clients included the major accounting firms, is appointed by President Bush as chairman of the SEC.

Sept. 11 - In the days following the attacks by hijacked airliners, Pitt gets credit for helping maintain calm in financial markets and the smooth resumption of trading.

Oct. 22 - In a speech to accountants, Pitt calls for a new era of respect and cooperation between the SEC and the auditing profession. The same day, Enron announces the SEC is probing secret partnerships that will later doom its auditor and former Pitt client, Andersen.


Jan. 17 - Pitt proposes new accounting oversight system but critics charge it is too weak.

Feb. 11 - South Carolina Democrat and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ernest Hollings says he'll turn a "suspicious eye" on Pitt's responses to the Enron collapse, citing Pitt's former connections to the accounting industry.

April 26 - Pitt meets privately with chairman of audit firm KPMG, under investigation by the SEC. Pitt insists nothing improper was discussed but promises to avoid meetings that even give the appearance of a conflict of interest in future.

July 7 - Senate Democratic Leader John Daschle calls for Pitt to be replaced, citing a "cozy, permissive relationship" with corporate America.

July 8 - A fellow Republican, Sen. John McCain, calls for Pitt to resign.

July 24 - White House dismisses request by Pitt for a pay raise and elevation to cabinet level as "a distraction."

Aug 14 - Deadline for chief executives and financial officers of most large companies to personally certify their financial results. Seen as novel response to spate of financial scandals and garners Pitt praise.

Sept. 20 - Pension fund chief John Biggs emerges as front-runner for new accounting oversight board job as former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker rules himself out.

Early Oct - Pitt backs off quickly naming the oversight board amid reports that accounting industry is lobbying hard against Biggs.

Oct. 25 - A bitterly divided SEC votes 3-2 to appoint an accounting oversight board headed by former CIA and FBI head William Webster.

Oct. 31 - Pitt asks SEC Inspector General to probe the board's selection process after it emerges that Pitt failed to tell fellow commissioners or the White House that Webster had been the audit committee chairman at a firm accused of fraud in a lawsuit.

Nov. 5 - Pitt resigns, saying the turmoil surrounding his chairmanship is hampering the SEC's work.