News Release

Ken Lay: Beyond the Indictment

ROBERT BRYCE
Available for a limited number of interviews, Bryce is author of the books Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron and Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America’s Superstate.
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ALEX KNOTT
Political editor of the Center for Public Integrity, Knott said today: “The ties between Enron executives and President Bush have been very close and the Center has found that this closeness is reflected in the more than $600,000 that company employees have lavished upon the president throughout his career. Only recently surpassed, the Center first identified Enron as Bush’s top career patron four years ago. Kenneth Lay and his family have given the president $139,500 over the years, which accounts for almost a quarter of Enron’s contributions to Bush. In addition to Lay, we found another seven Enron employees who have been indicted by the federal government that have personally donated to the various Bush campaigns.”
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GREG COLERIDGE
Coleridge is with the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy. He said today: “Ken Lay in handcuffs may be a visible symbol of justice to those who lost jobs, investments, and retirement savings, but his indictment as well as token changes in regulatory laws over the past few years have done nothing to handcuff the fundamental rights that business corporations continue to enjoy to define public policies. Until corporations are no longer shielded by the Constitution as ‘persons’ and the public is able to fundamentally redefine what a corporation can and cannot do, it is we the people who will have our hands tied in controlling our lives and communities.”
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WENONAH HAUTER
Director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, Hauter said today: “Two-and-a-half years after Enron declared bankruptcy, Ashcroft’s Department of Justice finally brought charges against the company’s former CEO, Ken Lay. But Lay is only charged with accounting- and securities-related crimes; no senior Enron officials have been accused of crimes related to the company’s manipulation of the West Coast energy market. As recently released recordings of Enron energy traders show, the company’s business model was designed to exploit newly-deregulated markets to manipulate supplies and prices of electricity and natural gas. The lack of significant criminal prosecution of crimes related to energy deregulation unfortunately fits the pattern already established by the rest of the federal government. While Congress quickly passed the Sarbanes-Oxley bill to address widespread accounting fraud, no such action has been taken to increase regulations over the energy industry (in fact, Congress has only proposed accelerating deregulation by repealing the last remaining structural regulation over the industry, the Public Utility Holding Company Act). And the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — whose Chairman Pat Wood was recommended to Bush by Ken Lay — continues to push ahead with its national deregulation plans. Clearly, the $210 million contributed to federal politicians by Enron’s successors — energy corporations and investment banks — since Enron’s bankruptcy shows that corporate influence over our government continues to dominate Washington, D.C.”
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CHARLIE CRAY
Director of the Center for Corporate Policy, Cray is co-author of the forthcoming book The People’s Business: Controlling Corporations and Restoring Democracy. He said today: “The attention paid to the prosecution of high-profile white collar criminals such as Ken Lay, Martha Stewart and Dennis Kozlowski has diverted attention from a failure to address the systemic causes of that epidemic of fraud and abuse — including the aggressive tort ‘reform’ laws (e.g. the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, which let the so-called ‘gatekeepers’ — the lawyers, bankers and accountants — off the hook) and the blind deregulation of the principal industrial sectors involved in the cornucopia of accounting and other financial shams (telecommunications, banking, energy).”
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DAPHNE WYSHAM
NADIA MARTINEZ
JIM VALLETTE
Wysham is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-author with Jim Vallette of the report “Enron’s Pawns: How Public Institutions Bankrolled Enron’s Globalization Game.” Martinez is Latin America coordinator for the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies. Wysham said today: “This is a small measure of justice, long overdue, for one of the worst corporate crimes in American and world history, but it does nothing about what Enron stole from thousands of workers and investors. In fact, U.S. taxpayers continue to subsidize Enron’s global reach to the tune of billions of dollars, while citizens around the world are brutalized and killed for protesting its greedy actions. A greater measure of justice would be to eliminate the cause of Enron’s betrayal — deregulatory energy policies at home and abroad.” A PDF version of the report is available at: www.seen.org/PDFs/pawns.PDF
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167