The chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission rebuked the agency’s enforcement division on Monday for issuing a subpoena to two journalists, accusing it of operating in a renegade fashion.
The rare criticism of the agency by its chairman, Christopher Cox, followed the decision late Friday not to enforce the subpoena, at least temporarily, after the commission received calls from reporters writing articles about it.
The subpoena had demanded information from two Dow Jones journalists, Herb Greenberg, a columnist for Marketwatch.com, and Carol S. Remond, a columnist for Dow Jones Newswires, about articles they had written about companies that caused the share prices to drop.
“The issuance of a subpoena to a journalist which seeks to compel production of his or her notes and records of conversations with sources is highly unusual,” Mr. Cox said in a statement issued by his office Monday morning.
“Until the appearance of media reports this weekend, neither the chairman of the S.E.C., the general counsel, the office of public affairs, nor any commissioner was apprised of or consulted in connection with a decision to take such an extraordinary step,” the statement continued.
“The sensitive issues that such a subpoena raises are of sufficient importance that they should, and will be, considered and decided by the commission before this matter proceeds further.”