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Congress steps up Enron probes

Several congressional committes are investigating Enron's collapse.
Several congressional committes are investigating Enron's collapse.  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Congress stepped up efforts to investigate the collapse of Enron Corp. on Friday, with a Senate panel issuing 51 subpoenas and a House committee asking executives at Enron's accounting firm to turn over information in their personal records.

The Republican-controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee's request that executives at accounting firm Arthur Andersen LLP hand in everything relating to Enron comes after the firm disclosed Thursday that many documents related to its audits of the energy company had been destroyed.

The committee requested records from executives at Arthur Anderson's Houston office, including the personal files of David Duncan, the managing partner there. The Houston office handled the audit for Enron.

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"We're going to anything we can do to try to piece this puzzle together," said Ken Johnson, spokesman for Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-Louisiana.

The committee plans to hold early February hearings on the collapse of Enron. Several other committees are also investigating the company, including at least four Senate committees and subcommittees.

One of the subcommittees, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, issued the 51 subpoenas Friday. The subcommittee will be seeking documents dating back to January 1991.

A committee staff member said 49 of the subpoenas are to individuals -- executives and board members of Enron and Arthur Andersen LLP.

No names were released but it is known Enron's Chairman and CEO Kenneth Lay and former CEO Jeff Skilling were on the list. The other two subpoenas were to go to Enron and Arthur Andersen as business entities.

Wendy Gramm, the wife of Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, is on the list because she was a member of the Enron board of directors.

Subcommittee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Michigan, wants responses to the subpoenas to be compiled within the "next few weeks."

Although Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Connecticut, the chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, has scheduled a hearing for January 24 for the full committee, Levin has not scheduled a hearing for his subcommittee.

Enron's financial troubles have drawn considerable interest from watchdog groups -- and some lawmakers -- because the company was a major contributor to many political campaigns, including President's Bush bid for the White House. Some Democrats have received Enron contributions, but most of Enron's political donations have gone to Republicans.

The Center for Public Integrity, a watchdog group that tracks money in politics, said 24 executives and board members at Enron contributed almost $800,000 to Bush, the national political parties and members of Congress between 1999 and 2001.

During that same period, Enron also gave $1.9 million in soft-money contributions. The executives were named in a shareholders' lawsuit filed against the company last month.

-- CNN's Jonathan Karl and Dana Bash contributed to this report.




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