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Reed and Grassley Seek to Increase Transparency at Accounting Watchdog PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 26 April 2013 09:55

WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to protect the investing public, improve the oversight of corporate auditing, and ensure that the financial reports of publicly traded companies are accurate and reliable, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) reintroduced the PCAOB Enforcement Transparency Act of 2013.  The Reed-Grassley bill will make Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) disciplinary proceedings public to bring auditing deficiencies at the firms or the companies they audit to light in a timely manner and help deter violations.

The PCAOB was created in the wake of a series of corporate accounting scandals, such as Enron and WorldCom, that cost investors billions of dollars and hurt the U.S. economy.  Congress established the PCAOB to audit the auditors.  But the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley law creating the Board also required PCAOB’s disciplinary proceedings to be kept confidential through charging, hearings, initial decision, and appeal.  Unfortunately, the secretive nature of the process enables firms that engage in misconduct to drag out the proceedings for years while the investing public is kept in the dark.

The Reed-Grassley bill will make PCAOB hearings and all related notices, orders, and motions, open and available to the public unless otherwise ordered by the Board.  The PCAOB procedure would then be similar to SEC Rules of Practice for similar matters, where hearings and related notices, orders, and motions are open and available to the public.

“The PCAOB is responsible for ensuring that auditors of public companies meet the highest standards of quality, independence, and ethics.  Reliable financial reporting is vital to the health of our economy and we must take the legislative steps necessary to enhance transparency in the PCAOB’s enforcement process.  Currently, Congress, investors, and others are being denied critical information about an auditor’s disciplinary process.  Investors and companies alike should be aware when the auditors and accountants they rely on have been charged or sanctioned for violating professional auditing standards,” said Reed.

“Transparency brings accountability,” Grassley said. “This legislation levels the playing field between auditors reviewed by the SEC and auditors reviewed by the PCAOB.  Currently, PCAOB proceedings are secret while SEC proceedings are not.  The secrecy provides incentives to bad actors to extend the proceedings as long as possible so they can continue to do business without notice to businesses about potential problems with a particular auditor.  This bill ends the secrecy and brings the kind of transparency that adds accountability to agency proceedings.”

The PCAOB sets auditing standards for auditors of public companies, examines the quality of audits performed by public company auditors, and where necessary, imposes disciplinary sanctions on registered auditors and auditing firms.  The PCAOB oversees more than 2,400 auditing firms registered with the Board, as well as the thousands of audit partners and staff who contribute to a firm’s work on each audit.

The lack of transparency surrounding disciplinary proceedings under current law can provide unscrupulous firms with an incentive to litigate cases in order to continue to shield conduct from the public.

For example, an accounting firm that was subject to a disciplinary proceeding issued no fewer than 29 additional audit reports on public companies during the course of the proceedings.  Those public companies and their investors were completely unaware there was a potential auditing problem with this accounting firm.   Before the firm was expelled from public company auditing, it issued those audit reports, knowing all the while that it was subject to disciplinary proceedings.  But investors were denied this information.

PCAOB’s closed proceedings run counter to the public enforcement proceedings of other regulators, including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the U.S. Department of Labor, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and others.  Nearly all administrative proceedings brought by the SEC against public companies, brokers, dealers, investment advisers, and others are open, public proceedings.

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Iowa Supreme Court Opinions April 26, 2013 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Iowa Judical Branch   
Friday, 26 April 2013 09:39
Iowa Supreme Court Opinions

April 26, 2013

Notice: The opinions posted on this site are slip opinions only. Under the Rules of Appellate Procedure a party has a limited number of days to request a rehearing after the filing of an opinion. Also, all slip opinions are subject to modification or correction by the court. Therefore, opinions on this site are not to be considered the final decisions of the court. The official published opinions of the Iowa Supreme Court are those published in the North Western Reporter published by West Group.

Opinions released before April 2006 and available in the archives are posted in Word format. Opinions released after April 2006 are posted to the website in PDF (Portable Document Format).   Note: To open a PDF you must have the free Acrobat Reader installed. PDF format preserves the original appearance of a document without requiring you to possess the software that created that document. For more information about PDF read: Using the Adobe Reader.

For your convenience, the Judicial Branch offers a free e-mail notification service for Supreme Court opinions, Court of Appeals opinions, press releases and orders. To subscribe, click here.

NOTE: Copies of these opinions may be obtained from the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Judicial Branch Building, 1111 East Court Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50319, for a fee of fifty cents per page.

No. 11–1065

STATE OF IOWA vs. TOMMY TYLER, JR.

No. 12–0335

CITY OF OKOBOJI, IOWA vs. LEO PARKS, JR. and OKOBOJI BARZ, INC. d/b/a OKOBOJI BOAT WORKS, FISH HOUSE LOUNGE and CLUCKER'S BROASTED CHICKEN

 
Loebsack Statement on Jim Leach’s Decision to Step Down as Humanities Chair PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Vonnie Hampel   
Thursday, 25 April 2013 07:55

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement after Jim Leach announced his decision to step down as the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“Jim Leach’s service to our nation is second to none.  As a native son of Iowa, he has served proudly and with dignity for over three decades.  In his most recent role as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Jim again used his position to bring together people from both parties to grow the cultural institutions that enrich our lives. I was especially pleased to be able to work with Jim while he was Chairman on his push to stop the name calling and bring civility back to the political arena.  I am proud to have been able to work with him, and Terry and I wish Jim and Deba well in their future endeavors.”

###

 
As U.S. Marks 80th Anniversaries, Family’s Story of Good and Evil is Retold PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Thursday, 25 April 2013 07:37
Son of German-Jewish Family Uncovers Diaries from pre-War Nazi Germany

Eighty years ago, those who were part of America’s “Greatest Generation” were beginning to define events that would prove to be some of the country’s finest moments. In stark contrast, Germany was entering its darkest period.

The two countries powered ahead on a collision course that would lead to vastly different fortunes for its people, notes Torkel S Wächter, the son of German-Jewish parents who uncovered fascinating family documents written during the ascendancy of Nazism in Europe.

On his website, www.onthisday80yearsago.com, he replays history in diary fashion with posts appearing on the anniversary of events 80 years ago in Germany. It’s an artistic/literary project called “simulated real time,” a way of commemorating history so that it’s not forgotten, he says.

“These anniversaries make for an excellent study in contrast in history for the two countries,” Wächter says; he cites the following examples:

• United States: Eighty years ago, the country was beginning a relationship with one of the most beloved presidents in U.S. history, Franklin D. Roosevelt. On May 7, the 32nd commander-in-chief outlined his economic plan, the New Deal, in one of his famous fireside chats.

• Germany: In stark contrast, just three days later in Germany, literature deemed “un-German” was destroyed in the infamous Nazi book burning. Earlier in 1933, Adolf Hitler had attained power, and on April 1, Jewish businesses were boycotted.

• Post-war legacy: While WWII was the beginning of the end for the Nazi party, the war marked the end of America’s Great Depression. For the past 80 years, the United States has remained the preeminent world superpower. In contrast, the reconstruction of Germany after the war was a long process; 7.5 million – 11 percent – of Germans had been killed; the country’s cities were largely destroyed; and agricultural production had declined by two-thirds. A psychological shame has hovered over Germans since the discovery of genocidal death camps.

“I used to hate Germany; while growing up, my father never discussed his German upbringing, even though he was obsessed with the country,” says Wächter, who was raised in Sweden. “We were never allowed to talk about it because the pain from the past was still alive in him.”

After his father died, Wächter finally opened the boxes he’d left behind. They were filled with diaries, letters, articles and other documents. From these, he wrote “The Investigation,” which highlights questions about personal responsibility and evil during pre-war Nazi Germany.

These are lessons, he says, from which we can all learn today.

“It’s much more difficult to hate something that you come to understand,” he says. “I no longer hate Germany. I’ve realized that my father actually loved the country – he had a great upbringing there, and Jews in Germany had been a success story. But because of what occurred under Hitler, he felt such betrayal and pain, he could never bring himself to talk about it.”

About Torkel S Wächter

Torkel S Wächter is the descendant of German-Jewish civil servants who suffered under the Nazi regime. His book, “The Investigation,” outlines the experience as recorded by his paternal grandfather and father. He studied economic history, development theory and languages at the universities of Lund, Melbourne and Barcelona, as well as Jewish studies at Paideia, the European Institute for Jewish Studies, and architectural restoration at the Royal University College of Fine Arts in Stockholm. After a stint as a fashion model in Paris and Barcelona, Wächter trained as a diver in the Royal Swedish Navy and then went on to an aviation career. During the 1990s Wächter served as a first officer with Schandinavian Airlines. In 1997 Wächter published his first novel, “Samson,” and in 1999 he published the first Swedish e-book. Wächter lives in Stockholm and Barcelona with his architect wife; together they have four children.

 
Iowan Jane Kelly Clears Senate PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Thursday, 25 April 2013 07:34

Prepared Floor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa

Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee

On the Nomination of

Jane Kelly, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mr. President,

I rise today in support of the nomination of Jane Kelly to be United States Circuit Judge for the Eight Circuit.

The nominee before us today, Ms. Kelly, presently serves as an assistant public defender in the Federal Public Defender’s office for the Northern District of Iowa in the Cedar Rapids office.

She is well regarded in my home state of Iowa and so I’m pleased to support Senator Harkin’s recommendation that he made to the President and subsequently the President’s nomination of Ms. Kelly.

She received her B.A. summa cum laude from Duke University in 1987.    After spending a few months in New Zealand as a Fulbright Scholar, she went on to Harvard Law School.  She graduated cum laude, earning her J.D. degree in 1991.

Upon graduation, she served as a law clerk – first for Judge Donald J. Porter, United States District Court for the District of South Dakota, then for Judge David R. Hansen of the Eighth Circuit.

Judge Hansen has sent us a letter in support for Ms. Kelly.  He was a person that I have suggested to Republican Presidents for both district judge and then for his long tenure on the Eighth Circuit.  He has been a friend of mine as well.  This is what now-retired Judge Hansen said in support of Ms. Kelly.   “She is a forthright woman of high integrity and honest character” and that she has an “exceptionally keen intellect”.  Judge Hansen concludes that “she will be a welcomed addition to the Court if confirmed.”   I would add that I have no doubt that she will be confirmed.

Beginning in 1994, she has served as an assistant federal public defender in the Northern District of Iowa in the Cedar Rapids office. She handles criminal matters for indigent defendants and has been responsible for trying a wide range of crimes.  She became the supervising attorney for the Cedar Rapids office in 1999.

Ms. Kelly is active in the bar and in district court matters.  She presently serves on the Criminal Justice Act Panel Selection Committee, the blue-ribbon panel for criminal cases, and the Facilities Security Committee of the district court.

In 2004, her peers honored her with the John Adams Award from the Iowa Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Drake University Law School.  She was unanimously chosen for this award, which recognizes individuals who show a commitment to the constitutional rights of criminal defense.

The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary gave her a Unanimous “Qualified” rating.

I congratulate Ms. Kelly on her accomplishments and wish her well in her new duties.  I am pleased to support her confirmation and urge my colleagues to join me.

Now I would like to spend a couple minutes to update my colleagues on the progress we are making with respect to judicial nominations.

With this confirmation, the Senate will have confirmed 185 judicial nominations to the District and Circuit Courts.  Only two of President Obama’s nominees failed confirmation.

That’s a record of 185 to 2.

As I stated last week, a .989 batting average is a record any President would be thrilled with.  Yet this President, without justification, complains about obstruction and delay.

Today’s confirmation is the 14th so far this year – including 5 circuit judges and 9 district judges.

Let me put that in perspective for my colleagues.  At this point in the second term of the Bush presidency, only one judicial nomination had been confirmed.   A comparative record of 14 – 1 is nothing to cry about.

As I said, this is the fifth nominee to be confirmed as a circuit judge this year, and the 35th overall.   Over 76 percent of his circuit nominees have been confirmed.  President Clinton ended up at 73 percent; President Bush at 71 percent.  So President Obama is doing better than the previous two Presidents.

So again, this President and Senate Democrats should have no complaints on the judicial confirmation process.  The fact of the matter is that President Obama is doing quite well.  I yield the floor.


 
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