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Waxman says Cheney task force helped Enron

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A report issued Wednesday by a Democratic congressman critical of the White House for not releasing records of the closed-door meetings of Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force said "there are at least 17 policies in the White House energy plan that were advocated by Enron or that benefited Enron."

"The range of policies in the White House energy plan that would help Enron is enormous," Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, wrote in a letter to Cheney asking him again to release information about White House contacts with Enron and other energy companies while the plan was being formulated.

"This creates an unfortunate appearance that a large contributor received special access and obtained extraordinarily favorable results in the White House energy plan," Waxman wrote.

A spokeswoman for Cheney dismissed the Waxman report as "election-year maneuvering."

The Waxman report noted that Enron executives met with members of the task force six times, including one meeting between Cheney and Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay.

It also said Enron "was the largest single supporter of President Bush, donating over $500,000 over his political career."

"In the meetings between the national energy policy development group staff the issue of Enron's financial situation was never raised," Cheney's press secretary Jennifer Millerwise told CNN.

She called Waxman's effort "a waste of taxpayer dollars."

The report said Enron advocated policies to deregulate the electricity market, promote the energy derivatives and commodities markets, expand natural gas and oil production and aid Enron in other areas, such as supporting "energy development in India where a major power plant owned by Enron was facing financial difficulties."

Cheney and Waxman locked horns over the issue of disclosure of task force activities long before Enron declared bankruptcy.

Waxman asked the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, to obtain the Cheney records. The GAO is considering suing the White House to get the records.

Most of the recommendations from the energy task force passed the House last session but stalled in the Senate.




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