While some Washingtonians were sad about the fall of gentlemanly Tom Daschle, whose nomination to be HHS secretary was pulled because of his tax troubles, former SEC chair Harvey Pitt was not one of them.
Pitt once was a wunderkind enforcement officer who helped give the SEC of the early 1970s a reputation for integrity and public service. Pitt’s dream was always to become its chair. In 2001, President George W. Bush made that dream a reality.
But about a year later, then–South Dakota senator Daschle blasted Pitt for having a “cozy relationship” with the companies he regulated. Among the companies mentioned as Daschle led the charge to drive Pitt from the SEC job was the telecommunications firm Global Crossing. Pitt reluctantly stepped down after 18 months, never acknowledging any cozy relationships or improper dealings.
As it turns out, the free car service and driver for which Daschle failed to pay taxes were provided by Leo Hindery, former CEO of Global Crossing, who also paid Daschle $1 million in consulting fees.
“I try to be a forgiving person,” says Pitt, now a Washington consultant, referring to Daschle. “But I have to say that the most satisfying investment I have ever made was to contribute $2,000 to the guy who beat him in 2004.”