Mark Cuban, "Shark Tank" reality show star, failed reality show dance contestant, owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, and bazillionaire, is not known for his small ego or a reticence to speak his mind. Still, it's amazing how much smack he has been talking about the SEC and its attorneys since he won his trial on insider trading charges. Not long ago, I heard an interview with him on a Dallas sports-talk radio station in which he called out SEC lawyers by name and mocked and blistered them in terms that even this blog's owner might have found a bit too "tart." On the other hand, he's stinking rich and he believes that the bureaucrats tried to ruin him without justification, so I get it.
USA Today recently published an interview of Cuban by the original "News Babe," Maria Bartiromo, in which Cuban showed that his ire against the SEC and its lawyers is not fading with the passing of the time. Excerpts:
Q: The SEC initially said you used a private tip to avoid a loss on the sale of your 600,000 shares of Internet company Mamma.com shares back in 2004. How did they get this so wrong?
A: Confirmation bias. They ignored fact after fact. Even those written by SEC agents. Instead of dealing with facts, they misrepresented and mislabeled testimony and documentation and ignored the obvious.
Q: Do you think it's that the SEC doesn't have the right resources and people overseeing business and the securities industry or are they just trying to make examples of high profile people?
A: I think they exemplify what type of organization you should expect when you have nothing but attorneys and in particular former prosecutors running the show. From every dealing and observation I have had of the SEC, it is obvious that lawyers run the show. There is a culture of trying to win, not trying to find justice. There is a culture of looking to find their next job. I always say that SEC equals "Swiftly Enhanced Careers." There is no business sense that I can find. That has, in my humble opinion, led to a bloated entity that has no idea what resources it needs, no concept of what its true goals should be or how to get there. They don't know how to make markets fairer or better at creating capital for business. They just know how to use the courts to litigate matters. (The SEC declined comment.)
Q: You refused to settle and went to trial. You had to spend more money on lawyers than on the potential fines you would have had to pay. Why was this so important to take this to the mat.
A: Because I hate to be bullied. I love this country. The idea that the people who over the first six years of my case ran the SEC could just ignore facts and care only about winning and losing and have no interest in justice, turned my stomach. I have the resources to fight. I felt compelled to take up that fight.
One of the lessons here is that when taking on the federal government in bet-your-life-and/or-fortune litigation, it helps to have a billion or more in assets to fund the defense. I guess when Marc bashes lawyers, he means "government lawyers." He obviously doesn't hate all lawyers since he and his brother, a lawyer, seem to get along.
There aren't many community bankers with Cuban's resources. They have to fight their battles against their federal regulators, when a dispute leads to civil enforcement actions, as best they can. Even when the government repeatedly loses and still keeps on trucking, regardless of the facts, it can always hope that it can bleed the defendant into a settlement. That's not a reasonable prospect when you're facing a Cubanesque opponent.
Therefore, whether or not you like the guy, you can cheer him on. You might even live vicariously through him.