The dinner was financed by donors to the Historical Society who purchased tables ranging in price from $3,500 to $7,500 and placed notices in the bound book congratulating the commission on its achievements. ("Each new day presents an opportunity to celebrate," read the ad from Fidelity Investments. "A blue ribbon achievement? It certainly is!" gushed a full-page ad by the accounting firm Ernst & Young.)
Tickets cost $250 per person but $50 for SEC staffers or government employees.
"This was not an SEC-sponsored event," the SEC said in a statement to POLITICO. "The event was organized by the nonprofit SEC Historical Society, a 501(c)(3) organization which is not in any way affiliated with the SEC. The SEC staff who attended the event all paid their own way."
More than 70 tables were sold for the event, largely to law and lobbying firms that do business with the SEC. Among the table sponsors were Standard & Poor's, the ratings agency that came under criticism for failing to scrutinize the subprime mortgage market before it collapsed, and D.E. Shaw & Co., the hedge fund that paid Obama economic adviser Lawrence Summers more than $5 million while he worked there.