- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Laura Unger, a member of the Securities and Exchange Commission, announced her resignation yesterday leaving the market watchdog agency with only two commissioners out of its full complement of five.
Mrs. Unger, a Republican lawyer named to the SEC by President Bill Clinton in October 1997, said she was stepping down this fall to join the private sector. Her five-year term expired in June.
Her move gives President Bush a chance to shape the SEC by naming as many as four commissioners.
"It has been a great honor to serve on the commission during the most dramatic period of technological innovation and transformation in the history of America's capital markets," she said in a statement released late yesterday.
She will join a stream of lawyers, accountants and examiners who have left the SEC in recent years for more lucrative jobs outside government an exodus that Mrs. Unger herself recently said had created a "staffing crisis."
Her departure comes at a time of stock market anxiety following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and amid continued U.S. bombing of targets in Afghanistan.
The SEC suspended its usual restrictions on companies buying back shares of their own stock to help shore up the market in the wake of an extraordinary four-day shutdown of trading after the attacks in the heart of New York's financial district.
Mr. Bush appointed Mrs. Unger acting SEC chairman in February to replace Arthur Levitt, who headed the agency through most of the Clinton administration.
Harvey Pitt, Mr. Bush's nominee as SEC chairman, was confirmed by the Senate in August and a few weeks later plunged into the crisis that gripped Wall Street after the terror attacks. He met nearly round-the-clock with the heads of the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq Stock Market as well as securities industry leaders.
Several lawmakers have expressed concern over the vacancies at the agency, which regulates securities markets, mutual funds and investment companies.
Richard Walker, the SEC enforcement director who established the agency's Internet surveillance program, recently left to work for an investment-banking firm.
Mrs. Unger, 40, has been particularly active in issues raised by the growing popularity of online trading and other areas related to technology. Before coming to the SEC, she was a legislative aide to former senator and Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Alfonse D'Amato, a New York Republican. Before that, she was an attorney in the SEC's enforcement division.
The other SEC commissioner is Isaac Hunt, a Democrat whose term also has expired. Another Democratic Clinton appointee, Paul Carey, died in June, and Norman S. Johnson, a Republican named by Mr. Clinton, left in May 2000.
Mr. Bush thus will be able to appoint as many as four commissioners.

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