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Former Ohio Rep. Mike Oxley Dies at 71

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Friday, 01 Jan 2016 05:10 PM

Former U.S. Rep. Mike Oxley, who helped write landmark anti-fraud legislation following a wave of corporate scandals that brought down Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc., died Friday at age 71.

Oxley died in his sleep in McLean, Virginia, after suffering from non-small cell lung cancer, a type of lung cancer seen in nonsmokers, said his wife, Patricia Oxley. Mike Oxley was chairman of the Lung Cancer Alliance board of directors.

Though his cancer was a shock to the nonsmoker, he took the diagnosis in stride, said Laurie Fenton Ambrose, the alliance's president and CEO.

Oxley "never lost his irreverent sense of humor and his distinctive laugh that could be heard throughout the office whenever he came by for a visit," Ambrose said.

The country "has lost a great public servant and I have lost a great friend and mentor," Gov. John Kasich said.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said he was a college freshman when Oxley visited his political science class.

"It was a pleasure to consider him a friend years later. Mike was a true policymaker, passionate about the intricacies of his work and always driven by what he believed was best for the country and his district," Ryan said.

"Yet for all his accomplishments, I will always remember Mike for being, above all, a genuinely good and decent man. Ox set an example for all of us, and he will be missed."

The Ohio Republican left Congress in 2007 after 25 years in the House, where he devoted most of his time to issues involving corporate oversight and insurance protection.

He led an effort to investigate failed energy giant Enron and helped create new accounting requirements in the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

The law reshaped corporate oversight after accounting scandals in 2001-2002 at Enron, WorldCom and other major corporations exposed inadequate internal controls and auditors who had become too cozy with the companies whose books they examined. Those corporate scandals and others wiped out retirement accounts, cost investors billions and pushed people out of work.

Small companies later complained that the law Oxley helped create brought added costs to comply with requirements for reports on their internal financial controls.

Pro-business conservatives argued that a board established to oversee the accounting industry and the industry's own regulators had violated the separation of powers and challenged the law in court.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2010 agreed that the law violated the Constitution's separation of powers mandate. But its decision required only a slight change in allowing the removal of members of the oversight board.

In the House, Oxley was chairman of the financial services committee, which has jurisdiction over banking and Wall Street issues.

Oxley, a former FBI agent, advocated giving police greater ability to unscramble encrypted computer files. He was the chief House sponsor of legislation requiring operators of commercial websites to restrict young people's access to sexually explicit material.

He was an FBI agent for three years before he was elected to the Ohio House in 1972. He won a special election to the U.S. House in 1981 by 341 votes to fill a vacancy caused by the death of GOP Rep. Tennyson Guyer.

Oxley rarely faced a close election after that, especially since his district in rural northwest Ohio was one of the state's most solidly Republican seats and included his hometown of Findlay.

Following his retirement, Oxley became a lobbyist in the financial sector. He was also a member of the University of Findlay board of trustees and active with Miami University of Ohio, his alma mater.

He is survived by his wife, a son and a grandson.


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Former U.S. Rep. Mike Oxley, who helped write landmark anti-fraud legislation following a wave of corporate scandals that brought down Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc., died Friday at age 71.
US, Obit, Mike Oxley
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2016-10-01
Friday, 01 Jan 2016 05:10 PM
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