May 11, 2001 11:12pm
Bush's SEC Pick Worked for Sex Co.
by: Matt Kelley
(WASHINGTON) -- President Bush's choice to head the Securities and Exchange Commission helped an online distributor of ``Teen Sex'' videos and other adult entertainment resolve troubles with the NASDAQ stock market, SEC records show.
Directors of New Frontier Media Inc. hired Harvey Pitt in 1999 to do legal work in an effort to help the company keep its NASDAQ listing, the company said in an SEC filing. NASDAQ officials agreed last year to continue trading the company's stock after executives restructured two stock sales that ran into problems with NASDAQ rules.
Bush on Thursday nominated Pitt as chairman of the SEC, which regulates the nation's stock markets. Pitt was the agency's general counsel from 1975 to 1978. The Senate must confirm Pitt to the post.
Pitt did not respond to repeated requests for comment Friday. The White House stood behind Bush's nominee, calling Pitt experienced and highly qualified for the SEC job.
New Frontier Media, which bills itself as ``America's Most Turned-On Media Company,'' runs several pay-per-view satellite and cable television channels which show adult movies. The Boulder, Colo., company also owns IGallery.com, a network of sexually explicit Web sites offering ``Teen Sex Videos,'' ``Live Nude Amateurs,'' and the like. Its stock closed at $3.26 per share Friday, down 29 cents.
Religious conservatives are questioning Pitt's nomination.
``If he has made money on the degradation of women and children, he is not acceptable to become the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission,'' said the Rev. Lou Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition (news - web sites). ``To reward that behavior with that appointment is not good political judgment.''
Former GOP presidential candidate Gary Bauer (news - web sites) said Bush should take a second look at Pitt's nomination.
``The Bush administration is in office because of millions of votes from Americans worried about cultural decline,'' Bauer said Friday. ``If Mr. Pitt has provided assistance to a company that distributes pornography, it would be deeply insulting to those voters.''
The White House said many lawyers represent clients they do not agree with, but that argument won no favor with Bauer.
``Many lawyers would decline to represent a racist organization,'' Bauer said. ``Given the damage that pornography does to women and children, we would hope for a higher standard.''
Hank Gracin, New Frontier Media's main securities lawyer, said he asked for Pitt's help with the NASDAQ problem because ``Harvey's the best of the best.''
``When people get in trouble, he's the first guy to call,'' Gracin said.