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Carl Levin retirement a relief for some corporations

Sep 18, 2014

Credit Derek DeVries / Grand Rapids Community College

 

Some of America's top business leaders are breathing a big sigh of relief as Democratic U.S. Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan prepares to retire.

It turns out that Michigan's senior senator has been running a very tight ship in chairing a Senate subcommittee that's done some deep probing into the workings of some very big businesses.

The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, or PSI, was created back in Harry Truman's time to investigate war profit hearings. Today, the organization looks into practices in government and business. 

Kelsey Snell wrote a piece about it for Politico. She notes that the subcommittee chaired by Levin has a big focus on going after tax evasions and unfair business practices on Wall Street.

Levin, unlikely most other chairmen in the Senate, has the ability to issue subpoenas, which make those under investigation compelled to respond. Under this unique power, some big names like executives from Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Apple have testified.

And those videotaped hearings can be stressful, too, as Snell said in her piece:

“The first thing I tell people is, PSI stands for ‘pretty scary investigations,’ ” said Reginald Brown, vice chair of the Financial Institutions Practice Group at the law firm WilmerHale, who has represented several Levin targets. “There probably will be some people who will sleep easier [once he is gone].”

Potential candidates to fill Levin's spot include Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and, on the Republican side, Sen. Rand Paul. 

However, Levin's role may not be easily replaceable.

"Levin has brought a lot of prestige and a strong sense that PSI is a worthwhile subcommittee," says Snell.

*Listen to the conversation with Kelsey Snell above.