- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 12, 2002


More than 250 members of Congress received political contributions from Enron, and at least 15 high-ranking Bush administration officials owned stock in the now-bankrupt energy company, according to two government-watchdog groups.

The stockholders included Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, senior Bush adviser Karl Rove, deputy EPA Administrator Linda Fisher, Treasury Undersecretary Peter Fisher and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, according to an analysis of financial disclosures by the Center for Public Integrity.

In Congress, 71 senators and 187 House members received political contributions between 1989 and 2001, according to an analysis of federal election documents by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The top recipients in the Senate are from Texas, where Enron is based. Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison topped the list receiving $99,500 over the period. Republican Sen. Phil Gramm was second, with $97,350.

Of the 10 House members who received the most money from Enron, six were Democrats and most were from Texas. The top recipients were both Democrats, Rep. Ken Bentsen, with $42,750, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, with $38,000.

Army Secretary Thomas White, who was not included in the watchdog analysis of administration officials, was Enron’s vice chairman before his assuming his Pentagon post and owned between $50 million and $100 million worth of stock.

In addition to the Bush officials who owned Enron stock, at least two officials had professional ties to Enron, according to an analysis of financial disclosures by the Center for Public Integrity.

White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey served as a consultant to Enron when he was managing director of Economic Strategies Inc., a consulting firm. Mr. Zoellick also served on the advisory council, earning $50,000 a year.

The report did not specify which officials sold their stock before Enron’s financial collapse in December, but at least two, Mr. Rove and Mr. White, have disclosed that they did. Enron shares, which traded as high as $83 last year, are now worth less than $1.

Mr. White, whose stock was valued between $50 million and $100 million, announced that he sold his stock before taking his post with the Army last year. Mr. Rove sold his shares, worth between $100,000 and $250,000, early last year to comply with federal ethics rules.

Bill Allison, managing editor of the Center for Public Integrity, said there are other companies that have ties as far-reaching as Enron but probably not very many.

“This is a fairly revealing look at how many administration people, who are in decision-making positions, had a significant interest in Enron,” Mr. Allison said.

Rep. Joe L. Barton, Texas Republican, got $28,909, and fellow Texas Republican Rep. Tom DeLay got $28,900.

Rep. John D. Dingell, Michigan Democrat, was 10th on the list, receiving $9,000. Mr. Dingell is the ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, a panel with jurisdiction over the Enron case.

Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott’s re-election campaign accepted $1,000 from Enron Chairman Kenneth L. Lay in May 1999, according to Federal Election Commission records. Enron gave another $1,000 in September 1999 to Celebration 2000, Mr. Lott’s leadership political action committee, a group that helped other candidates.

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