Harvey Pitt was the 26th chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), serving from 2001-2003. He resigned after a tumultuous two year tenure. He led the SEC in restoring the U.S. securities markets to full operations after the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, instituted a policy of "real time enforcement" to make the SEC's enforcement efforts more effective, and led the SEC in the adoption of dozens of rules to implement the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
Pitt's tenure was highly controversial. In what USA Today called "a stunning end to his tumultous reign", Pitt resigned on November 5, 2002 (election day) citing "the turmoil surrounding my chairmanship" in his letter to the President. Pitt came under much criticism from Democrats for being allegedly too close to the accounting industry and subverting efforts to tighten regulation in the wake of the Enron scandal and other cases of corporate malfeasance.
He worked to reconcile the demands of accountants, financial services firms, public companies, institutional shareholders, legislators and stockholders with such legislation as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Prior to that he was a partner of a global Washington, DC law firm and was widely considered one of the preeminent experts in his field. He coined the phrase 'corporate Darwinism'.
Pitt graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1961, Brooklyn College with a bachelor's degree in 1965, and from St. John's University School of Law with a JD degree in 1968. From 1968 to 1978, he served on the staff of the SEC, eventually becoming the agency's youngest-ever General Counsel in 1975, aged 30.