Washington Post had pulled the same trick before Lay's death, using
a May 26 story by Zachary A. Goldfarb headlined, "Once
a Friend and Ally, Now A Distant Memory," on Bush and Lay
and Enron. The paper ran a photo of Bush and Lay to make
the point. The story made no reference to what the Clinton
Administration did for Enron.
This effort to link President Bush to Ken Lay, and thus
to corporate scandal and accusations of cronyism, has been
going on since the 2000 election. It is getting new life-after
Lay's death-in order to damage the Republicans going into
the fall elections.
History shows, however, that Lay supported Ann Richards
when George W. Bush first ran for governor of Texas in 1994.
While it is true that Lay and Enron gave some $6 million
to various candidates and both parties, mostly to Republicans,
at least $1.5 million went to Clinton and the Democrats.
What did Lay and Enron get in return? Numerous trips overseas
with Commerce Secretaries and Energy Secretaries, help on
at least 18 overseas business projects, and lots of financial
support in return for campaign donations. Through the Export-Import
Bank and OPIC, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation,
in loans and loan guarantees, Enron received close to $2
billion in, what shall we call it? Corporate welfare? Payback?
Investigative reporter Paul Sperry did an excellent job documenting the
benefits Ken Lay received from the Clinton administration.
Lay was a member of Clinton's Council on Sustainable Development
and backed the U.N.'s global warming treaty. Enron participated
in a U.N. conference to develop Communist China's coal reserves.
Prosecutors in the case against Enron executives Lay and
Jeffrey Skilling say they had been providing false and misleading
financial information from 1999 until Enron filed for bankruptcy
in late 2001. When the company finally was forced to accept
the reality of what was happening, there was one more effort
to keep things afloat. A prominent Democrat, Robert Rubin,
who had been Clinton's Treasury secretary, suddenly got busy.
Rubin had become the chairman of the executive committee
at Citigroup, one of Enron's largest creditors. On November
8, 2001, Rubin contacted Peter Fisher, a senior official
in Bush's Treasury department. The unusual nature of the
call, according to an article in
Forbes magazine, was to ask "Fisher to consider advising
the bond-rating agencies against an immediate downgrade of
Enron's debt. Fisher said that for him to intervene would
not be a good idea, and Rubin backed down."
Hence, the evidence shows that the Bush administration,
having received significant campaign contributions, refused
to attempt to intervene on behalf of Lay and Enron, and the
Bush Justice Department vigorously prosecuted the case, achieving
serious convictions of the top executives of the company.
But don't expect the liberal media to give the Bush Administration
any credit for this.
If you want some of the facts about the Clinton-Enron ties,
you have to read the conservative press. Marc Morano, in
an article for
Human Events, documented many of the dealings that Enron
and the Clinton Democrats pursued together, including pressuring
the poor African nation of Mozambique to enter into an agreement
with Enron to build a pipeline. The country was threatened
with losing its foreign aid dollars if it didn't comply.
By the same token,
Enron's cultivation of the conservative media, through
payments by the company or Lay himself to
Bill Kristol and Erwin Stelzer of The Weekly Standard, Larry
Kudlow of National Review, and Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street
Journal, became a major embarrassment. These "Enron conservatives" were
paid either to sit on a company advisory board and offer
advice or write speeches. Even here, however, the left also
got its hands dirty. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman
was exposed for taking $50,000 of Enron money.
In the final analysis, coverage of Enron and Ken Lay provides
another case study of liberal media bias. Once again, the
media double standard was on display, offering a distorted
picture of political corruption that in reality reflects
on liberal Democrats more than conservative Republicans.
At least the Bush Administration tried to clean up the mess. CRO