Former Pequot Prober Defends Self Against Journal's Slings And Arrows

Jan 3 2007 | 1:57pm ET

Not willing to let bygones be bygones, fired Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer Gary Aguirre—who accused the agency of giving preferential treatment to Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack in an insider-trading probe involving hedge fund Pequot Capital Management—is hitting back at his critics.

In a letter to the editor, to be published in tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal, Aguirre lambasts the newspaper for a Dec. 8, 2006, editorial which itself lambasted Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) for his support of Aguirre. The Journal dragged Aguirre’s name through the mud, accusing him of having “long held sweeping grievances against hedge funds and the SEC” and winning a post at the SEC “on his 23rd try in September 2004” after filing an age discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It went on to accuse him of having no evidence to support his insider-trading charges and of having leaked confidential information to Senate staff.

Well, New Year or no, Aguirre is not taking those accusations lying down. Long-standing hatred of hedgies? Au contraire, Aguirre writes. “Before the Pequot investigation, I had no experience with hedge funds—good or bad… Before the Pequot assignment, it is unlikely that I used the term more than 20 times in my life.”

And the 60-something-year-old Aguirre—a one-time tort lawyer and film school student—rejects claims that he was unqualified for the job, citing former SEC Enforcement Director Steven Cutler’s hire of him as a “superior qualifications appointment.”

And as Aguirre showed in his Senate testimony, he can give as good as he gets. Noting that the Journal rarely defends the SEC, but has in this case, Aguirre queries, “how often would you come to the rescue of an SEC that treated the Wall Street elite just like everybody else, as required by law?”

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