SEC and Pornography: Workers Spent Hours on Porn Sites Instead of Stopping Fraud

On a day when President Obama argued for more government regulation over the financial industry, a new government report reveals that some high-level regulators have spent more time looking at porn than policing Wall Street.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is supposed to be the sheriff of the financial industry, looking for financial crimes like Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme. But the new report, obtained by ABC News, says senior employees of the SEC spent hours on the commission's computers looking at sites like naughty.com, skankwire, youporn, and others.

The investigation, which was conducted by the SEC's internal watchdog at the request of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, found 31 serious offenders over the past two and a half years. Seventeen of the offenders were senior SEC officers with salaries ranging from $100,000 to $222,000 per year.

Eight Hours a Day Spent on Porn Sites

One senior attorney at SEC headquarters in Washington spent up to eight hours a day accessing Internet porn. When he filled all the space on his government computer with pornographic images, he downloaded more to CDs and DVDs that accumulated in boxes in his offices.

An SEC accountant attempted to access porn websites 1,800 times in a two-week period and had 600 pornographic images on her computer hard drive.

Another SEC accountant attempted to access porn sites 16,000 times in a single month.

In one case, the report said, an employee tried hundreds of times to access pornographic sites and was denied access. When he used a flash drive, he successfully bypassed the filter to visit a "significant number" of porn sites.

The employee also said he deliberately disabled a filter in Google to access inappropriate sites. After management informed him that he would lose his job, the employee resigned.

A similar SEC report for October 2008 to March 2009 said that a regional supervisor in Los Angeles accessed and attempted to access pornographic and sexually explicit Web sites up to twice a day from his SEC computer during work hours.

Porn Problem Began as Economy Collapsed

Ironically, the report says most of these cases began in 2008, just as the financial system began to collapse. The same SEC officers who should have been safeguarding the economy were instead spending their working hours surfing the Internet for pornography, and the problem hasn't stopped.

The most recent case cited in the report is from just four weeks ago.

ABC's Ki Mae Heussner contributed to this report.

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