Congressman Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight Committee, is initiating an investigation into the timing of the Security and Exchange Commission's fraud suit against Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs.
"The events of the past five days have fueled legitimate suspicion on the part of the American people that the Commission has attempted to assist the White House, the Democratic Party, and Congressional Democrats by timing this suit to coincide with the Senate's consideration of financial regulatory legislation," Issa says.
Issa's staff tells CBS News that they currently have no hard evidence that the SEC violated federal law by colluding with the White House. But they argue the timeline and the circumstances are fishy, and they point to two things in particular: the announcement of the fraud suit the week before Democrats planned to bring their financial reform bill to the Senate floor, and the amazing speed with which Organizing for America managed to purchase a Google ad directing people who typed "Goldman Sachs SEC" on Google to donate money at my.barackobama.com once the news broke on the New York Times website.
Issa's office is not going so far as to make an accusation of impropriety at this point. But they are requesting a raft of documents from the SEC - including "all known communications" between SEC employees and the Executive Office of the President, the Democratic National Committee, the DNC group Organizing for America, or the New York Times. They say if they don't get the documents they want from the SEC, there are "many avenues to pursue," including subpoenas.
This morning, CBS News caught up with SEC Chairman Mary Shapiro as she was departing a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy. We asked her if there was any political pressure put on the SEC to bring this suit against Goldman Sachs.
Her response, as she walked away: "Absolutely not."More on Goldman Sachs and Financial Reform:
Goldman Sachs Hires Ex-White House Counsel
SEC vs. Goldman: A Matter of "Material"
Goldman Earns $3.3B In 1Q As Fraud Case Looms
Goldman Suit No "Slam Dunk" For SEC
Spitzer: SEC will Likely win Case against Goldman Sachs
Goldman CEO: We'll Defend our Reputation
Goldman and SEC: Why No Settlement?
Goldman Sachs Faces Backlash in Europe, Too
Analysts Bullish on Goldman, Despite Charges
Goldman Charges May Spur Finance Reform
GOP Decries "Partisan" Financial Reform Bill