- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2002

It was a darling of Wall Street, its market value soaring past that of General Motors. Its share price increased by more than 400 percent as recently as three years ago.

The company's chairman and founder became a billionaire faster than anyone in U.S. history. His $60 million mansion boasts a private workspace modeled after the White House.

And why not? The high-flying company spread a lot of money around Washington, lining the pockets of lawmakers from both parties. As for the company chairman himself, he personally contributed more than $1 million to the president's pet project.

Alas, the once-prosperous company has fallen upon hard times, filing one of the largest bankruptcies in the annals of American business. A former officer of the company alleges that the company and its accounting firm, Andersen, cooked the financial books to mislead investors.

Meanwhile, there are revelations that company insiders cashed in more than $1 billion worth of stock in recent years as the company's fortunes deteriorated.

Yet, even as the company slouched toward bankruptcy, even as its share price melted down to the point that it was delisted by the New York Stock Exchange, it prevented its rank-and-file employees from selling company shares in their 401(k) retirement plan.

By now, I suspect, most readers assume they know the company to which I am referring. But it is not Enron Corp., the target of multiple inquiries on Capitol Hill, the subject of saturation news coverage by the national news media.

It's Global Crossing.

That Enron's collapse has generated 10 times the news stories as Global Crossing's, that lawmakers in Washington have scheduled nary a hearing to discuss Global Crossing's business practices reveals the political motivation driving the putative Enron scandal.

Indeed, in practically every news story, every broadcast report on Enron, we are reminded that the fallen energy giant was a big contributor to the Republican Party, and that former Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay personally donated $100,000 to President Bush's Inaugural fund.

Yet, no major newspaper and no network newscast has mentioned that Global Crossing has given more to Democrats than Enron gave to Republicans.

Nor has it been widely reported that Global Crossing Chairman Gary Winnick donated more than $1 million to the Clinton presidential library before Bill Clinton left office.

South Carolina Democratic Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings went so far this week as to call for a special counsel to look into Enron, citing contacts and links between Enron executives and the Bush administration. He termed the administration "a government of Enron."

Yet, neither Mr. Hollings nor any other Democratic partisan has produced a shred of evidence suggesting that any Bush administration official has been unduly influenced by Enron, or that Enron has received any favors from the Bush administration.

But we do know that Global Crossing was awarded a $400 million defense contract, set in motion by the Clinton administration, to develop a phone and data network connecting thousands of scientists and engineers around the country.

Global Crossing's rivals, including AT&T, Qwest Communications, Sprint and Worldcom, protested that the Clinton administration rigged the bidding process to favor Mr. Winnick's company.

Indeed, Global Crossing had an influential cheerleader in its corner in Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic Party's top buck-raker, who arranged a round of golf with Mr. Winnick and President Clinton.

It was the least Mr. McAuliffe could do for Mr. Winnick. After all, the Democratic National Committee's current chairman got rich off Global Crossing, parlaying a $100,000 investment in the telecommunications company into $18 million in a little more than a year's time.

Global Crossing is no less a scandal than Enron. Its ties to the Democratic Party and to the Clinton administration were as close as Enron's ties to the Republican Party and to the Bush administration.

Yet, if Al Gore were the current occupant of the Oval Office, if Democrats were the majority party on Capitol Hill, it is doubtful the national media would be as preoccupied with Global Crossing.

It is unlikely Mr. Hollings or any other Democratic lawmaker would be talking about a "government of Global Crossing." They would characterize Global Crossing as a business, rather than political, scandal. Which is precisely how they refuse to characterize Enron.


Joseph Perkins is a nationally syndicated columnist.


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