Enron En-fluence

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As most of the country now knows, Enron was the largest energy trading company on earth but collapsed almost overnight and was forced into bankruptcy after they 'cooked the books' and misled investors and employees. Thousands of Texans lost their jobs in the Enron fall and the taxpayers of Texas lost tens of millions of dollars.

What some may not know is that top Texas Republicans have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign cash from Enron.

Not only did these Republicans take Enron's money - they also appear to have doled out favors in exchange for it. Probably the most striking example is Rick Perry's appointment of an ex-Enron executive to head up the Public Utilities Commission - the same commission that regulates Enron. And then Perry took a $25,000 "donation" the very next day from Ken Lay, Enron's CEO!

These politicians should be serving the people of Texas - not Enron or their own campaign bank accounts. Many politicians have chosen to return contributions they received from Enron by donating the money to a charity for laid-off Enron employees. Texas Republicans should do the same - because their campaign cash won't feed the families of the Enron Unemployed.



Rick Perry

Rick Perry took a total of $227,075 from Enron and its chiefs over the years, according to his campaign. Many of these donations are especially suspicious, including $25,000 he accepted the day after appointing ex-Enron executive Max Yzaguirre to head up the Public Utility Commission. Although the PUC seat to which Perry appointed his Enron crony became vacant in mid-March, Perry waited three months to make the appointment - a matter of days after the end of the legislative session during which his nominee could have been forced to answer questions. After more than a month of public outcry, Perry finally cut his nominee loose. But he still refuses to return his Enron booty, saying he has already spent it. Maybe he should tell that to the thousands of ex-Enron employees and defrauded investors who never had the chance to spend theirs.



John Cornyn

John Cornyn has taken a total of $193,000 from Enron and its top executives, including $25,000 less than two weeks after the Max Yzaguirre appointment to the PUC and just a few weeks before siding with Enron in a utility case in which the company sought to keep financial information secret as it competed for business in the deregulated utility market. When Attorney General John Ashcroft removed himself from the federal Enron investigation because of a $25,000 contribution from the company, Cornyn at first refused to follow, then flip-flopped in fewer than 24 hours and recused himself from a non-existent state investigation. He has apparently recused himself in perpetuity from any obligation to return his Enron cash to help ex-employees pay their bills.



Carole Keeton Rylander

Carole Keeton Rylander took $71,500 from Enron and its honchos - including $25,000 on June 15, 2001, the same week Rick Perry appointed Enron executive Max Yzaguirre to chair the Public Utilities Commission in exchange for $25,000 of his own. Uncharacteristically silent since the Enron scandal became public, Rylander has declined to return a dime of her campaign cash to help the ex-Enron employees feed their families. Now we know why she has kept so quiet -- the state tobacco settlement fund she oversees lost $61 million in Enron investments and other bad financial deals. This was money that should have gone to local hospitals, cities and counties for health care programs. Except that she never told the local officials they won't get as much as they had budgeted for. And when caught with her hand in the empty cookie jar, she sent her spokesman out to answer critics with the argument that she should be absolved of any fiduciary responsibility "in the wake of the Sept. 11 tragedy."

-- Cherri (jessam5@home.com), March 18, 2002

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