- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 1, 2002

Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman said he would subpoena the Enron-related testimony of former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin "in a minute" if the senator felt that Mr. Rubin could "add something," Dave Boyer of The Washington Times reported yesterday.

Wouldn't Mr. Lieberman be interested to learn whether Enron Chairman and CEO Kenneth Lay personally contacted Mr. Rubin during Enron's days of accelerating desperation last November, as the company was hurtling toward bankruptcy? Since 1999, Mr. Rubin has been a director of Citigroup, Enron's largest creditor, and chairman of the executive committee of Citigroup's board of directors. On Nov. 8, Mr. Rubin made a highly inappropriate telephone call to Peter Fisher, the Democratic undersecretary of Treasury for domestic finance. At the time, Enron's stock price was below the level that would trigger a requirement for Enron to immediately repay billions of dollars in loans to its creditor banks, a development that would lead to Enron's bankruptcy. Only Enron's investment-grade credit rating prevented the activation of the repayment requirement. And the credit-rating agencies were about to significantly downgrade Enron's rating. Mr. Rubin audaciously asked Mr. Fisher to intercede with the agencies on Enron's behalf. Mr. Fisher refused.

What precipitated Mr. Rubin's Nov. 8 call? Did an increasingly desperate Mr. Lay, who had offered Mr. Rubin, a longtime friend, a seat on Enron's board in May, call the Citigroup rainmaker? After all, on Oct. 26, Mr. Lay called Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who, a Fed spokesman said, "did nothing in response to the call because it would have been inappropriate." On Oct. 29, Mr. Lay called Commerce Secretary Don Evans and asked him to intercede with the credit-rating agencies. The day before, he called Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill seeking help. The Enron CEO struck out with both Cabinet members. Meanwhile, Enron President Lawrence Whaley had called Mr. Fisher six to eight times, inappropriately beseeching him to call Enron's bankers and recommend that they loan Enron more money. On Nov. 8, Mr. Lay again called Mr. O'Neill. Again, no luck. Did he then call Mr. Rubin? Also, why did Mr. Rubin pressure Mr. Fisher to do something that Messrs. Greenspan, Evans and O'Neill all rightly refused to do?

In late November, Enron's credit rating was about to be lowered again, this time to junk status, thus jeopardizing its merger with Dynegy, the consummation of which would have forestalled Enron's imminent bankruptcy. Did Mr. Lay ask Mr. Rubin to place a call to Moody's, which Mr. Rubin did, to prevent the eventual merger-destroying downgrade?

On Jan. 11, Governmental Affairs' Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations issued more than 50 Enron-related subpoenas, even as Mr. Lieberman threatened a lawsuit against the Bush administration demanding detailed information of Enron's contacts with the administration's energy task force. Surely, Mr. Lieberman would want to know what contacts Mr. Rubin had with Mr. Lay, with whom then-Treasury Secretary Rubin met to discuss the Clinton administration's energy policy.

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