Enron Scandal: The Gift That Keeps On Giving
Ah yes, Enron. Doesn’t this bring back those halcyon memories of George W. Bush’s earliest days in the White House. Our newly elected “moderate” Republican president sat there giving himself rectal thumb massages while a large portion of the country was having the rug pulled out from under them by one of Bush’s largest contributors.
It all seems so long ago, and yet, the 2006 election campaign will be sharing lots of press coverage with the upcoming trials of Richard Causey, Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling.
Boy George will be finding out that some things just can’t be swept under the rug. As the Stephen King short story says, “Sometimes they come back.”
Richard Causey, Enron’s former top accountant, has agreed to plead guilty to at least one of the umpteen charges against him. He’ll get five to seven years instead of ten. In return for his lighter sentence, he’ll help the prosecution in their cases against Lay and Skilling.
The original strategy was to have all three defendants being tried together. They’d be able to help each other by presenting a united front. Because of Causey’s deal with the prosecution (no honor among thieves, etc.), Lay and Skilling have another opponent instead of an ally.
As a former prosecutor said, “Less rope is needed for two necks, as the government’s noose tightens. The government always benefits from the addition of high-level insiders who would have been party to conversations with most senior executives.”
In 2001, Bush, and the Republican-appointed members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, refused to do anything about this trumped-up energy crisis. Tens of millions of people were suffering through blackouts and quadrupled utility bills during winter storms and triple-digit summer temperatures, while Bush and the FERC just sat there with their thumbs up their yinyangs.
A popular joke going around Enron at the time was:
Q. What’s the difference between California and the Titanic?
A. When the Titanic went down, the lights were on.
California might get the last laugh. In 2001, at the height of Enron’s fake energy “crisis,” California’s then-Attorney General said he’d like to personally escort Kenneth Lay to his prison cell and introduce him to his 300-pound cellmate. Maybe his wish will be granted soon.