Thursday, November 20, 2008

More on Cuban and the SEC

The Wall Street Journal has some interesting news on the spat between Mark Cuban and local attorney for the SEC Jeffrey Norris that took place last year. The NY Times published a copy of one of the emails Norris sent to Cuban, but apparently their exchanges were a little more involved:

In March 2007, Norris began sending strongly-worded emails to Cuban, whose personal email address is public. In sometimes lengthy emails, Norris consistently defended President Bush to Cuban and, along the way, called Cuban unpatriotic. “Either you are really an anti-American ideologue or your allegiance to making money is significantly greater than your dedication to your country,” Norris told Cuban. For his part, Cuban said he didn’t personally believe in the film’s content and said Norris was against an “open market of ideas.”

In May 2007, after the Mavericks lost in the first round of the NBA playoffs, Norris posted a comment on a blog that attempts to be a parody of “Loose Change” and says that Mark Cuban himself “orchestrated the Mavericks’ loss.” Norris then emailed the comment to Cuban.

After calling the blog comment “scary,” Cuban sent an email to Norris and SEC Chairman Christopher Cox, noting that “sending [an] unsolicited email to me, basically accusing me of being a traitor and lacking in patriotism, from your sec email account and during working hours is exactly how taxpayer dollars should be spent.” Cuban added: “I would hate to think that you . . . would enforce laws different for those that ‘otherwise find it difficult to listen.’ ” Norris hit “reply all” and continued to criticize Cuban in full view of Cox. In the end, Norris eventually thanks Cuban for taking the time to “engage in this discussion.”

That was shortly after Norris realized that copying in the freaking chairman of the public entity you work for in on his nutball emails was probably not a great career move.

Norris declined to comment to the Law Blog. The SEC told the WSJ on Monday that Norris wasn’t at any time involved in the investigation, and that he is being reviewed for possible disciplinary actions. A spokesman said Cox “has never met the individual who corresponded with Mr. Cuban, nor has he spoken or corresponded with him in any way.” He said Cox recused himself from the vote on whether to bring the insider-trading case against Cuban.

WSJ’s Kara Scannell reported today that lawyers for Cuban sent a letter to the SEC in September 2007 raising the email exchange involving Norris. The SEC responded in a letter that Norris had no role in the investigation and that “political considerations and personal opinions will not have any bearing on any decisions that are made during this investigation.”

Later in 2007, WSJ reports, when the SEC staff was set to recommend filing civil fraud charges against Cuban, Cox didn’t want to take up the case in part because of the email exchanges.

It seems odd to me that only Norris is "being reviewed for disciplinary actions" seeing as how he copied the chairman in on this exchange at the time that it occurred. He either somehow stayed under the radar (who knows how many emails the Chairman gets or who even reads them all) or received discipline of a variety that isn't revealed here (perhaps a stern talking to?) For the most part, I do believe that Norris' exchange with Cuban had nothing to do with the SEC's decisions to file suit against Cuban, but honestly, would we be surprised if there's more to this than we know about?

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