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Bush administration and the Enron connection

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The Bush administration and the Enron connection, although it did not escape the scrutiny of Michael Moore, who on January 29, 2002, posted "An Open Letter to George W. Bush" -- "George W. in the Garden of Gethsemane" -- appears to have been traveling under the radar for many.

Moore writes regarding President Bush's relationship with Enron Corporation's Kenneth L. Lay:

"You needed a way to fly around to all the primaries and campaign stops in the 2000 election -- so Kenny gave you his corporate jet. Did you tell the voters when you arrived in each city that the bird you flew in on was from a billionaire who was secretly conspiring to give the bird to all his employees and investors? He flew you around America on the Enron company jet, and for that favor you touched down on tarmac after tarmac to tell your fellow citizens that you were 'going to restore dignity to the White House, the people's house.' You said this standing in front of an Enron jet!"
"Then rest of Kenny Boy's time was spent next door with his old buddy, Dick Cheney (Enron and Halliburton Company, as you'll recall, got the big contracts from your dad to 'rebuild' Kuwait after the Gulf War). Lay and Dick formed an 'energy task force' (Operation Enduring Graft) which put together the country's new 'energy policy.' This policy then went on to shut down every light bulb and juicer in the state of California. And guess who made out like bandits while 'trading' the energy California was in desperate need of? Kenny Boy and Enron! No wonder Big Dick doesn't want to turn over the files about those special meetings with Lay!"

Remarking on the new members of the Bush administration, Moore writes: "The only thing that surprises me more than all the Enron henchmen who ended up in your cabinet and administration is how our lazy media just rolled over and didn't report it. The list of Enron people on your payroll is impressive."

"Lawrence Lindsey*, your chief economic advisor? A former advisor at Enron! Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill*? Former CEO of Alcoa, whose lobbying firm, Vinson and Elkins, was the #3 contributor to the your campaign! Who is Vinson and Elkins? The law firm representing Enron! Who is Alcoa? The top polluter in Texas. Timothy White, the Secretary of the Army? A former vice-chair of Enron Energy! Robert B. Zoellick, your Federal Trade Representative? A former advisor at Enron! Karl Rove, your main man at the White House? He owned a quarter-million dollars of Enron stock.
"Then there's the Enron lawyer you have nominated to be a federal judge in Texas, the Enron lobbyist who is your chair of the Republican Party, the two Enron officials who now work for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and the wife of Texas Senator Phil Gramm who sits on Enron's board. And there's the aforementioned Mr. Pitt (Harvey L. Pitt*), the former Arthur Andersen attorney whose job it is now as Securities and Exchange Commission head to oversee the stock markets."
"Your bag man -- Donald Evans, the man who squeezed all that money for you from Enron as your campaign finance chairman (and is now collecting his reward as your Commerce Secretary) -- has admitted that he got calls from Enron begging for help last year because they were going under. Didn't he tell you this?
"Then Paul O'Neill, your Treasury Secretary, admitted that Enron and Kenny Boy called him, too, for some special favors to save Enron. Didn't he mention this to you? They claim to have called your chief of staff, Andrew Card, and he said he didn't bother to inform you. What does your mother-in-law think about these boys her daughter's husband consorts with?"
"Kenny Boy has been your number one financial backer since you ran for governor. No other American or Saudi has given you more money than Kenny Boy and his gang at Enron. O'Neill, Evans, Cheney, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham -- ALL of them gave Lay and Enron special favors from day one. The New York Times last May was so concerned about how Kenny had the run of the place (1600 Pennsylvania Ave.), they referred to Lay as the 'shadow advisor to the president.'"

Note: Lindsey, O'Neill, and Pitt have all since resigned their positions.

Moore comes to the point of his discourse by saying

"The saddest part of this whole affair was the day the scandal was revealed -- and you denied that you even knew your good friend, Kenneth Lay. 'Ken who?' you said. Oh, he's just some businessman from Texas. 'Heck, he backed my opponent for governor, Ann Richards!' was your way of trying to deflect the truth that was hitting you like a Mack truck. You knew that he, in fact, endorsed YOU and gave you THREE times the money Ann Richards ever saw from him.
"I hardly ever talk to the guy, you said. You were like Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane, denying he knew Jesus, three times. And then the cock crowed. And ter felt shame and ran away.
"What shame do you feel tonight, George, for the lies you have told? What shame do you feel using the dead of 9-11 as a cover for your actions, hoping that our sorrow for those lost souls and our fear of being killed by terrorists would distract us from what your boys and Kenny Boy were up to during those horrific weeks in September and October? It was during those very days, while the rest of us were in shock and sadness, that the executives at Enron were selling off their stock and shifting assets to their 900 phony partnerships overseas. Did they notice the remains of the dead being pulled from the rubble while they were downloading their millions, or were their eyes glued only to the bottom third of the TV screen as the stock ticker with the rigged Enron price crawled across the images of firemen desperate, in tears, to find their fallen brothers?"

At the request of Henry A. Waxman, the Minority Staff, Special Investigations Division for the Committee on Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives, prepared the May 2002 report "Bush Administration Contacts with Enron" "to provide at least a minimum list of all known contacts between the Administration and Enron in 2001.

"The report finds that there were at least 112 contacts between Enron and White House or other Administration officials during 2001. The largest number of known contacts -- 40 contacts in total -- were between Enron and White House officials. The White House officials involved in these contacts included Vice President Dick Cheney, presidential advisor Karl Rove, White House economic advisor Lawrence Lindsey, White House personnel director Clay Johnson III, and White House energy task force director Andrew D. Lundquist.
"During 2001, there were also at least 14 contacts with the Commerce Department; 10 contacts with the Energy Department; 9 contacts with the Treasury Department; 5 contacts with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission; 5 contacts with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; 4 contacts with the US Export-Import Bank; 4 contacts with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; 3 contacts with the US Trade Representative; 2 contacts each with the Agriculture Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, the International Trade Commission, the State Department, the Surface Transportation Board, and the Department of Transportation; and 1 contact each with the Federal Reserve, the Interior Department, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
"The estimate of contacts between Enron and the Administration in this report is likely to underestimate significantly the total number of contacts. For example, although 14 lobbying groups filed disclosure forms indicating that they lobbied for Enron in 2001, this report does not list meetings between Administration officials and those outside lobbyists. Lobbying records indicate that Enron and its subsidiaries spent over $3 million on those outside lobbyists, who included Ed Gillespie, Marc F. Racicot, Ed Buckham, and Jack Quinn. Moreover, the methodology used to count contacts between in-house Enron lobbyists and Administration officials is likely to underestimate the actual number of contacts. The report also does not include any of the 73 disclosed contacts that former Enron executive Thomas E. White had with Enron officials while serving as Secretary of the Army."

The report summary concluded that the "Enron Corporation was President George W. Bush's number-one career patron. Since 1993, Enron and its employees gave the President $736,800 in political and related contributions. Prior to the collapse of Enron in December 2001, the company appeared to have wide access to officials in the White House and federal agencies." [1]

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