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Congressional investigators planned to quiz Baxter

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Congressional investigators planned to interview Cliff Baxter next week and had the impression from Baxter's lawyer that he would cooperate, according to a congressional source.

As late as Friday morning, investigators with the House Energy and Commerce Committee spoke with Baxter's attorneys, another source on the committee said. Apparently, neither the investigators nor Baxter's lawyers were aware that he had killed himself.

The congressional source said committee members believed that the former Enron vice chairman was "a bit player, not a big fish in the frying pan."

This source said "someone told us he (Baxter) had information that would be useful."

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Former Enron exec dies in apparent suicide 
J. Clifford Baxter and Enron
Baxter made a profit of $21,980,470 from selling more than 600,000 shares of Enron stock since October of 1998.

One of 29 former and current Enron executives and board members named as defendants in shareholder lawsuit.

Resigned as vice chairman in May of 2001, but continued working for Enron as a consultant.

Baxter "complained mightily to [then-Enron President and CEO Jeff] Skilling and all who would listen about the inappropriateness of our transactions with LJM (a limited partnership)," Enron Vice President Sherron Watkins wrote in August 2001.

In weeks before his death, Senate subcommittee subpoenaed Baxter documents and House committee investigators tried to arrange a meeting with him.

On the Senate side, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, led by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, had subpoenaed documents from Baxter as part of a batch of subpoenas sent out January 11.

According to Levin's press secretary Tara Andringa, Baxter had not yet complied with the subpoena, but the deadline was not until February 1.

Andringa said that although Baxter was on the list of officials the Senate committee was hoping to interview, they had not yet decided whether they would ask him to testify at any hearings they may have later this year. He had not been issued a personal subpoena.

A source said House committee investigators wanted to talk with Baxter because his name was mentioned in an eight-page letter written last summer by Enron whistle-blower, Sherron Watkins.

In that letter to then-Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay, Watkins said Baxter had been complaining about Enron's business partnership with a company called LJM.

"Cliff Baxter complained mightily to (then-Enron President and CEO Jeff) Skilling and all who would listen about the inappropriateness of our transactions with LJM," Watkins wrote.

"Baxter was high enough up that he could have known something," said the congressional source.

The committee had "suspicions" that Baxter left Enron in May of 2001 because he thought "something was funny" at Enron and "wanted out," said the source.

-- CNN Capitol Hill Producer Ted Barrett, Congressional Correspondent Kate Snow and Producer Dana Bash contributed to this report.




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