FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Dear Jeb Bush, About You and Enron

by Joan Claybrook

The Honorable Jeb Bush Office of the Governor The Capitol Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0001

Dear Governor Bush:

Florida’s pension fund –for which you chair the oversight board –lost $334 million on Enron stocks and bonds in the wake of the company’s collapse. Many of the pension fund’s investments were made as Enron’s stock was plummeting in value and financial problems at the company were being publicly revealed. Investigations into the fund’s losses are now being conducted by the Florida attorney general, the Florida State Board of Administration and a committee appointed by the state House of Representatives.

Because of the conflicts of interest resulting from your strong ties to Enron and your extensive entanglements with the company, we call for you to recuse yourself from making any decisions or taking any actions relating to these investigations, and from taking an active role in any lawsuits against Enron, Arthur Andersen or other entities related to the Enron collapse. We also call on you to refrain from taking any actions on behalf of the Board of Administration that relate to Enron.

Your longstanding relationship with the company and its executives requires that you step down from any potential involvement in bringing Enron to justice. It is a state and national imperative that any wrongdoing be fully and independently investigated and that these investigations avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest.

We make our request because:

You have been a business partner with Enron. In 1995, you invested nearly $92,000 in an Enron affiliate, Enron Liquids Pipeline, and sold your interest 10 months later for a $7,100 profit;

You appointed Walter Revell to be chairman of the Florida 2020 Energy Study Commission, which was established to develop energy strategies for the state. Mr. Revell is a 25-year friend of Ken Lay. The policies set forth by the commission could have greatly benefited Enron;

In 1999, Enron subsidiary Azurix proposed a scheme under which it would help pay for Everglades restoration in exchange for water rights. Approximately two weeks after Enron’s plan was proposed, you appointed James Garner III, an Azurix lobbyist, to the Governor’s Commission for the Everglades;

Enron has been a generous contributor to your campaign and to Florida Republicans. Enron, its subsidiaries and its employees contributed $420,000 to Florida political campaigns between 1995 and 2001, more than 80 percent of that going to Republicans, according to the St. Petersburg Times. And the Florida Republican Party received at least $76,500 from Enron towards your election in 1998, state records show;

According to Florida Department of State records, you accepted nearly $20,000 from Enron, its subsidiaries, and the company’s accounting and law firms, during your 1998 campaign, including $6,500 directly from Enron executives;

Ken Lay reportedly gave money to the Foundation for Florida’s Future, a think tank you founded (the foundation refuses to reveal its funders or the amount of their gifts);

The Board of Administration’s deputy executive director is Coleman Stipanovich, brother of J.M. “Mac” Stipanovich, a Republican political consultant and lobbyist who ran your gubernatorial campaign in 1994;

In January of this year, Richard Kinder, former Enron president and large donor to your brother, George W. Bush, and the Republican Party, held a fundraising event for you at his Houston home, which you attended;

Enron and its employees contributed $312,500 to your brother’s 1994 and 1998 Texas gubernatorial campaigns, and another $113,800 to his presidential campaign. Enron also gave $10,500 to the Bush-Cheney Recount Fund and $300,000 to the Bush-Cheney 2001 Inaugural Fund, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Other prominent officials have recused themselves from involvement in any investigation or litigation involving the company. U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft did so, as did John Cornyn, attorney general for Texas. Three federal judges have recused themselves, as has the entire U.S. Attorney’s office in Houston.

In light of the fact that other public officials have acknowledged their conflicts and reacted accordingly, we believe that you owe the people of Florida a complete explanation of the extent of your ties with Enron. We ask you to:

Disclose all contacts you have had with Enron executives or agents since you have been governor and explain the nature of those contacts;

Tell the public when you knew Enron was in financial trouble, particularly whether you had knowledge of Enron’s shaky financial condition as the state pension fund was buying shares that were rapidly declining in value;

Explain what safeguards you put in place, or attempted to put in place when you became governor to ensure that such dramatic pension fund losses would not happen; and,

Tell Floridians what measures you plan to enact to ensure that such losses do not occur again.

We look forward to your making this information available to the public.

Sincerely,

Joan Claybrook President Public Citizen

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
Kenneth Surin
The Neoliberal Stranglehold on the American Public University
Lawrence Davidson
Is There a Future for the Democratic Party?
Robert Fisk
The Foreign Correspondent in the Age of Twitter and Trump
Dale Bryan
“Where Do We Go from Here?”
David Swanson
The Deep State Wants to Deep Six Us
Dan Bacher
Obama Administration Orders Speedy Completion of Delta Tunnels Plan
Mark Weisbrot
Obama Should Make Sure that Haitian Victims of UN-Caused Cholera are Compensated
Winslow Myers
The Light of the World
Bruce Mastron
My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns
Weekend Edition
January 13, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Gregory Elich
Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC?
Jeffrey St. Clair
The President Who Wasn’t There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence
Anthony DiMaggio
Ethics Fiasco: Trump, Divestment and the Perversion of Executive Politics
Joshua Frank
Farewell Obummer, Hello Golden Showers
Paul Street
Hit the Road, Barack: Some Farewell Reflections
Vijay Prashad
After Aleppo: the State of Syria
John Wight
Russia Must be Destroyed: John McCain and the Case of the Dodgy Dossier
Rob Urie
Meet the Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
The Russian Dossier Reminds Me of the Row Over Saddam’s WMDs
Eric Sommer
U.S.-China War: a Danger Hidden from the American People
Andrew Levine
Are Democrats Still the Lesser Evil?
Linda Pentz Gunter
What’s Really Behind the Indian Point Nuclear Deal?
Robert Fantina
Trucks, ‘Terror’ and Israel
Richard Moser
Universal Values are Revolutionary Values
Russell Mokhiber
Build the Bagdikian Wall: “Sponsored News” at the Washington Post
Yoav Litvin
Establishment Narcissism – The Democrats’ Game of Thrones
David Rosen
Return of the Repressed: Trump & the Revival of the Culture Wars
Robert Koehler
War Consciousness and the F-35
Rev. William Alberts
The New Smell of McCarthyism Demands Faith Leaders Speak Truth to Power
John Laforge
Federal Regulator Halts Move to Toughen Radiation Exposure Limits
Norman Pollack
Farewell Address: Nazification of Hope
David Swanson
Imagine the Confirmation Hearing for Secretary of Peace
CJ Hopkins
Why Ridiculous Official Propaganda Still Works
Ron Jacobs
Striking in Reagan Time
Missy Comley Beattie
The Streep
Graham Peebles
Climate Change: The Potential Impacts of Collective Inaction
Uri Avnery
Confessions of a Megalomaniac
Kenneth Worles
Black Without a Home: King’s Dream Still Deferred
Geoff Dutton
The Russian Patsy
Jill Richardson
The Coming War on Regulations
Jeremy Brecher
Resisting the Trump Agenda is Social Self-Defense
Peter Lee
Is Obama Behind the Hit on Trump?
Christopher Brauchli
Why Did Congress Do It? Because They Can
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail