GWEN IFILL: President Bush ended weeks of speculation today when he tapped Wall Street veteran William Donaldson to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. The 71-year-old Donaldson, if confirmed by the U.S. Senate, will replace Harvey Pitt. He resigned on Election Day after a 15-month tenure marked by a series of corporate scandals.
Donaldson co-founded the investment banking firm Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette in 1959, serving as its chairman and chief executive. He was chairman of the New York stock exchange in the 1990s, and later chairman of the insurance giant Aetna. Donaldson also founded the Yale University Graduate School of Management, and was its first dean. And he served as undersecretary of State under Henry Kissinger in both the Ford and Nixon administrations. President Bush called Donaldson one of the nation's most respected business leaders.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Bill Donaldson will be a strong leader with a clear mission: To vigorously enforce our nation's laws against corporate corruption, and to uphold the highest standards of integrity in the securities markets. Throughout his exceptional career, bill Donaldson has shown an ability to take on big assignments, to confront big problems, and to meet big challenges with a lot of energy and a lot of success. Bill Donaldson and his entire organization will have my strong support and the resources they need to carry out their important duties.
GWEN IFILL: In accepting the nomination, Donaldson pledged to combat the corporate corruption that plagued his predecessor.
WILLIAM DONALDSON: Thank you, Mr. President. I deeply appreciate the opportunity you've offered me to serve our country at this most important and challenging time. Until my nomination is confirmed by the senate, I believe it would be inappropriate for me to comment on exactly what I hope to accomplish as chairman of the SEC.
Let me just simply say that I am firmly committed to doing everything that I can do to restore the confidence of investors in the U.S. corporate and financial industry. Despite the historical soundness, as you say, Mr. President, and integrity of American industry as a whole, there have clearly been numerous instances of serious malfeasance, which have proven we will continue and must continue to deal with swiftly. As my mother used to say many years ago, it's time for all of us to pull up our socks. Again Mr. President, I'm honored to be asked to serve, and I look forward to beginning the task at hand. Thank you very much.
GWEN IFILL: Donaldson can expect more resources for that task. President Bush said he plans to boost the SEC Budget over the next two years, nearly doubling it from 2002.