isn't just some rinky-dink Recent land investment
like the one dredged up by right-wing enemies
to haunt the Clinton White House--but rather
it has the makings of the greatest presidential
scandal since the Teapot Dome. Dec. 11, 2001.
Bush administration has a long and intimate
relationship with Enron, whose much-discredited
chairman, Kenneth L. Lay, was a primary financial
backer of George W. Bush's rise to the presidency.
was Enron that provided the model for the
administration's trickle-down attempt to revive
an economy that's been in steep decline during
Bush's tenure. That model gives the fat-cat
corporate hotshots everything they want in
return for bankrolling political campaigns.
Not to worry about the rest of us because,
hey, what's good for Enron is good for America.
That it hasn't been is now painfully clear.
did Enron get in return for its contributions?
It got its way on deregulation, for one thing.
Remember when the administration refused to
assist California and other states during
the energy crisis, and consumers paid the
greedy was Enron that it locked its own workers
into a pension plan based on inflated company
stock values and suspect hidden partnerships,
while the top leadership led by Lay made out
should be called as a witness in the congressional
hearings scheduled to unravel this mess. One
thing that should come up in the hearings
is then-Gov. Bush's October 1997 telephone
call on behalf of Lay to then-Pennsylvania
Gov. Tom Ridge to help Enron crack into the
tightly regulated Pennsylvania electricity
called George W. to kind of tell him what
was going on," Lay told the New York Times
about the 1997 phone call, "and I said that
it would be very helpful to Enron, which is
obviously a large company in the state of
Texas, if he could just call the governor
[of Pennsylvania] and tell him [Enron] is
a serious company, this is a professional
company, a good company."
we now know Enron lacked those virtues, it's
clear Bush was used to sell a bill of goods
to the unsuspecting Pennsylvania folks.
Lay was instrumental in Bush's rise to the
presidency is indisputable. Since 1993, Lay
and top Enron executives donated nearly $2
million to Bush. Lay also personally donated
$326,000 in soft money to the Republican Party
in the three years prior to Bush's presidential
bid, and he was one of the Republican "pioneers"
who raised $100,000 in smaller contributions
for Bush. Lay's wife donated $100,000 for
governor, Bush did what Enron wanted, cutting
taxes and deregulating utilities. The deregulation
ideology, which George W. long had adopted
as gospel, allowed dubious bookkeeping and
other acts of chicanery that shocked Wall
Street and drove a $60-billion company, seventh
on the Fortune 500 list, into bankruptcy.
emerging scandal makes Whitewater seem puny
in comparison; clearly there ought to be at
least as aggressive a congressional inquiry
into the connection between the Bush administration
and the Enron debacle. Facts must be revealed,
beginning with the content of Lay's private
meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney to
create the administration's energy policy.
What was Lay's role in the sudden replacement
of Curtis Hebert Jr. as Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission chairman? As the New York Times
reported, Hebert "had barely settled into
his new job this year when he had an unsettling
telephone conversation with Kenneth L. Lay,
[in which Lay] prodded him to back ... a faster
pace in opening up access to the electricity
transmission grid to companies like Enron."
Lay admits making the call but in an unctuous
defense of his influence peddling said, "The
final decision on [Hebert's job] was going
to be the president's, certainly not ours."
Soon after, Hebert was replaced by Texan Pat
Wood, who was favored by Lay.
questions: Was there any conflict of interest
in the roles played by key Bush aides? Political
advisor Karl Rove owned as much as $250,000
in Enron stock. And economic advisor Larry
Lindsay and Trade Representative Robert B.
Zoellick went straight from Enron's payroll
to their federal jobs.
are other Enron alum in the administration,
including Army Secretary Thomas White Jr.,
who, as an Enron executive, held stock and
options totaling $50 million to $100 million.
have a right to know whether the Enron alums
in the administration were tipped off in time
to bail out with profit the way Lay and the
other Enron top execs did, while their workers
and stockholders--and eventually U.S. taxpayers--are
being left holding the suddenly empty bag.
Scheer writes a syndicated column.
2001 Los Angeles Times
Use Notice: This site contains copyrighted material
the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright
owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding
of environmental, political, economic, democratic, domestic and international
issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted
material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance
with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without
profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included
information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to:
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own
that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.