Lieberman Seeks Enron Contacts From White House, Energy Task Force

WASHINGTON – As part of his ongoing investigation into whether federal regulatory agencies could have done more to protect the thousands of people who suffered as a result of Enron’s collapse, Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Wednesday called upon the White House to disclose contacts it had with the failed company. 

In letters dated Wednesday, March 27, 2002, Lieberman asks the White House and the U.S. Archivist for all communications with Enron, dating back to 1992, regarding eight agencies, communications with any federal agency regarding the eight agencies, and contacts with Enron regarding the national energy policy.

The agencies are: The Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Departments of Labor, Energy and Commerce, the Export Import Bank, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Lieberman also sent letters to members of the Vice President’s energy task force asking for their contacts with Enron regarding the national energy policy. The requests cover both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

“As our inquiry into the Enron debacle has unfolded, we’ve learned that too many watchdogs failed to bark, ” Lieberman said. “I will not hesitate to ask for anything that helps us to investigate as thoroughly as possible what the federal government might have done to prevent, or at least anticipate, Enron’s demise, and whether there are steps we can take to avoid another corporate failure of this magnitude in the future. A broad inquiry of this sort demands that contacts between the White House and these agencies be reviewed.”

The expanded request comes on the heels of Lieberman’s examination into the role played by various regulatory agencies and private sector watchdogs. He has presided over four hearings that included probes of the 401(k) retirement issue, and of the failure of the Wall Street analysts and credit rating agencies to anticipate Enron’s collapse. On February 15, the Committee subpoenaed Enron and Arthur Andersen LLP for their contacts with the SEC, FERC, CFTC, and DOL. Those agencies were also asked for their contacts with Enron.

Subsequently, on March 22, the Committee authorized subpoenas for Enron and Andersen for additional information concerning Enron’s communications with the White House about the aforementioned eight agencies. Subpoenas were also authorized for 27 past and current members of Enron’s Board of Directors for their communications with the White House about the eight agencies and about the Vice President’s energy task force.

The Committee’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, meanwhile, has issued 51 subpoenas in an effort to discover what business practices may have contributed to the company’s demise.