The SEC began with a surplus of good leadership but ran a deficit when it came to funding. The $300,000 appropriated for 1934 came largely from FTC funds. Hiring began in earnest in the fall, and although Kennedy received hundreds of referrals from politicians and acquaintances, standards were high and the process difficult, particularly since there were no standard job descriptions for some of the more arcane specialties that the SEC required. Still, there was no shortage of applicants--young people everywhere wanted to come to Washington to be part of the New Deal.
For a time the Commission did not even have a home--it shared quarters with the FTC. In early October 1934 the SEC moved into the old Interstate Commerce Commission building. That the building's dark hallways, beaverboard walls, and greasy windows stood in stark contrast to the well-appointed halls of finance that the SEC would regulate troubled the staff not a bit--it only helped deepen the sense of mission that most employees shared.
Things got better in 1935 after Kennedy obtained a more respectable budget of $2.3 million. But improvements in Washington took a back seat to establishment of regional offices in New York, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Fort Worth, Denver, San Francisco, and Seattle. By the end of Kennedy's tenure, the agency had 692 employees, and although it owed much to the Commissioners and directors, the key to its effectiveness was the quality and dedication of the staff.
The New Deal was, in some respects, a great confrontation between old entrenched economic power and the newly enfranchised "average American." It also signaled the moment in American political history when those of urban, immigrant stock came to count. These trends were magnified at the SEC where young lawyers and accountants, many of them Irish and Jewish newly empowered by landmark legislation, wielded power over the mostly white Anglo-Saxon Protestant members of "white shoe" investment firms. That SEC staffers, policing firms from which they themselves might have been excluded, only heightened the commitment they gave to the work.
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