White House reveals Enron contacts
By Kelly Wallace
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House has revealed that members of its energy task force met six times with representatives from Enron Corp., the company that declared bankruptcy last month in the largest filing in U.S. history.
Vice President Dick Cheney also met once with the failed corporation's chairman and sat on a panel with him in the months preceding Enron's collapse, the administration said.
Cheney's counsel, David Addington, disclosed the meetings in a letter to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, who has been pressing the administration to turn over information about its meetings with Enron, accused of overstating its profits. Waxman also wants to know whether the company discussed its "precarious financial position" in any contacts with the White House.
"Enron did not communicate information about its financial position in any of the meetings with the vice president or with the National Energy Policy Development Group's support staff," wrote Addington in a letter dated January 3, last Thursday.
In a letter Tuesday, Waxman praised Cheney for disclosing the contacts between Enron and the White House, but called on Cheney to offer a "full accounting" of the contacts.
"Your response ... raises additional questions about the extent to which Enron may have influenced the administration's energy policies or provided information about its own operations," Waxman wrote.
Waxman noted that the last meeting between the administration and Enron on October 10 was just six days before Enron announced the "$1.2 billion reduction in shareholder equity that precipitated Enron's collapse."
President Bush, shortly after taking office, set up the National Energy Policy Development Group to develop a national energy policy and put Cheney in charge.
Addington said the meetings took place between last April 17 and October 10. Cheney met with Enron chairman and chief executive Kenneth Lay at the April meeting, and the two men also served on a panel on June 24 at the American Enterprise Institute's World Forum in Beaver Creek, Colorado, he said.
Enron provided the information as a courtesy, Addington said.
"It is our hope that submission of the information will help you avoid the waste of time and taxpayer funds on unnecessary inquiries," Addington said.
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