Sarbanes, Edwards say jobs bill hurts transparency

Two Maryland Democrats who opposed a jobs bill that won House approval this week said Friday they voted against the measure because it would roll back regulations intended to protect investors, including those created under the landmark and controversial Sarbanes-Oxley law.

Rep. John Sarbanes, a Baltimore County Democrat whose father -- former Sen. Paul Sarbanes -- was instrumental in crafting the financial regulations and Prince George's County Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards, were among only 23 lawmakers to oppose the bill Thursday. It was supported by 232 Republicans and 158 Democrats.

All 23 opposed were Democrats.  

The legislation would lift some Securities and Exchange Commission rules, allowing more companies to sell stock without having to register with the oversight agency and pay for costly accounting reports. Supporters say the measure would give small companies greater access to capital and make them more likely to hire new employees.

But Sarbanes and Edwards said that those requirements protect investors by creating transparency in the markets. Sarbanes-Oxley was approved in the wake of the Enron and WorldCom scandals.

"The so-called JOBS Act is a bonanza for Wall Street when our focus should be creating jobs on Main Street," Sarbanes said in a statement. "It treats billion dollar companies like small businesses and opens loopholes for them to cook their books -- we've seen this movie before and we shouldn't write a sequel."

Edwards agreed.

The legislation "should not be confused for a jobs bill," her spokesman, Benjamin Gerdes, said in a statement. "It misdiagnoses the challenges our economy faces in exchange for sweeping rollbacks of investor protections and transparency in our capital markets."

The bill -- among the few proposals to receive sweeping bipartisan support this year -- now heads to the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he will introduce a similar measure next week.

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