Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Ken Lay's influence in the Bush administration continues to undermine America's energy policy

Why you’re right:

1.Lay’s appointees control the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  In exchange for Kenneth Lay’s fundraising work during the 2000 campaign, President Bush made “Kenny Boy,” then-chairman of Enron, a member of the Energy Department transition team.  Lay submitted a list of his preferred candidates for appointment to the five-member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and two of them, Pat Wood and Nora Brownell, were named to commissioners.  The Wood-Brownell block was enough to uphold the legality of California’s long-term energy purchasing contracts, which were extorted from the state at the height of the market manipulation crisis in January 2001.  California is still seeking relief.(Washington Post, Sacramento Business Journal)

2.Lay cleared the way for his pick to become FERC chair.  Pat Wood became the chair of the commission after Clinton appointee Curt Hebert resigned.  Hebert stated that he had “received several phone calls from Lay asking him to support proposals that would have granted Enron greater access to interstate power grids in exchange for Lay's continued support of his chairmanship.” (Smart Money)

3.Dick Cheney’s national energy policy reads like Lay’s wish list.  Lay met four times with members of the administration’s energy task force, including once with Vice President Cheney himself.  Lay handed Cheney a memo containing policy recommendations, and investigation by Rep. Henry Waxman later revealed that Cheney’s final policy incorporates “all or significant portions of Enron’s recommendations” in seven of its eight policy areas.  The full story behind Lay’s influence is still unknown because of the Supreme Court’s recent decision not to order all documents released.  What is known is that the administration has failed to distance itself from the original policy.  (ABC, Committee on Government Reform, MSNBC)

Why they’re wrong:

1. Speaking for the Vice President, Mary Matalin claimed that the majority of Lay’s policy recommendations for energy policy had been rejected.  This, however, is patently false.  Examination of the public documents reveals that the final policy lifts concepts and even phrases directly from Lay’s memo.  (Committee on Government Reform)

2.During the Enron scandal and his recent indictment, the administration has attempted to distance itself from Lay.  Scott McClellan mentioned that Lay had “supported Democrats and Republicans alike, including the president.”  However, nearly 70% of Lay’s political spending had gone to Republicans, including more than $500,000 to Bush campaigns over the years.  (LA Times)