Chairman Sarbanes, Senator Gramm, Distinguished Members of this Committee:
I cannot adequately describe to you the sheer delight that I feel and the deep appreciation that I have for the opportunity to appear before you today. I am deeply honored to have been nominated to serve my country on the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Please allow me to introduce to you my wife, Mini. Mini and I were high school sweethearts. She is my life's partner, my closest friend and wisest adviser. Mini is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and is a practicing physician. We have been blessed with two sons, David who is 16 and Daniel who is 12. Our sons bring Mini and me joy and pride every day of our lives. Regrettably, our sons could not be here today.
With your indulgence, I will very briefly share some of my life's experiences and perspectives and then provide a few observations about the unique challenges facing the SEC.
I am Mexican-American. My life's journey began in the small town of Harlingen, Texas, near the Mexican border in the southern tip of Texas. I was raised in a humble household, in which only Spanish was spoken. My father, who could not be here today, is 88 years old. Like many in his generation, my father had to drop out of school in the sixth grade to help on the family farm. Later, when his country needed him, my father volunteered and enlisted in the U.S. Army to serve in World War II. He saw combat in Europe and was wounded in Germany and became partially disabled. During my childhood, my father often had three or four jobs at one time to make ends meet and to provide for our family. My brothers and I would often help my Dad in doing construction or whatever extra job he had committed to do. He taught my brothers and sister that honest hard work was noble, that service to our country was honorable, and that education was the most valuable possession a person could have.
My Dad had a simple version of the American Dream. He believed that hard work and sacrifice would produce better opportunities for his children and permit him to live with dignity in his old age. Like millions of Americans today, my Dad today is retired and lives on his savings, social security and pension benefits. The series of recent business scandals and the resulting crisis of confidence in our financial markets threatens the future of my father and millions of retirees. In my home town of Houston, Texas, I have seen neighbors, who had worked for years for a certain major company, suddenly and without warning, be without a job, without meaningful severance, and with their retirement accounts wiped out. I worry, that inevitably these corporate abuses may create a separate crisis of confidence and that the American public will come to question whether the American Dream has become an illusion. If I am confirmed, I pledge to work tirelessly with you and my colleagues at the SEC to restore the faith of the public in the integrity of our financial markets.
I have been blessed during my life to have had the opportunity to pursue higher education and to serve my country. As you know, apart from my military service, I was a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles. I investigated, tried and convicted members of major criminal enterprises and sent them to jail. I am informed that if the Senate chooses to confirm me, I will be the first person to serve as an SEC Commissioner with a law enforcement background. If confirmed, I will bring my experience and accept the heavy responsibility to fairly and carefully judge and determine the appropriate enforcement action and sanctions in the many pending and future SEC investigations.
As you also know, I have spent about sixteen years in private legal practice as a corporate transactions lawyer and as a corporate litigation and trial attorney. For the past few years, I have been an executive and part owner of a small private company. If confirmed, I will bring to the Commission my experience in having dealt with the challenges of building and operating a company in the private sector. One of the missions of the SEC that I will embrace if confirmed is to promote an environment in which small, entrepreneurial and emerging companies can raise capital efficiently. As we all know, small and emerging companies will produce much of the nation's future economic growth, creating a large share of tomorrow's new jobs and innovation, and such companies will help to validate the American Dream. Over the years, the SEC together with the able oversight of this Committee has earned universal respect and admiration. If confirmed, I promise to use all of my God-given abilities to uphold the SEC's legacy of exercising fair and tough-minded regulatory authority.
The Senate last week took a historic and courageous step restoring the public's confidence in the financial markets by passing the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002. I, along with the rest of the nation, are in your debt Chairman Sarbanes for the crucial role that you and this Committee played in bringing about this legislation. If I am honored by being confirmed, I look forward with great anticipation to working with you Mr. Chairman, Senator Gramm, and this Committee, and with Chairman Pitt and my fellow Commissioners and the talented staff at the SEC. There is much work to be done. However, I believe that we can together succeed and ably discharge our sacred trust and our obligations to the American people.
Thank you for this opportunity to appear before you today. I will do my best with any questions you may have.
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