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Industry News

White House Says Enron Present in Energy Policy Meetings

LCG, Jan. 9, 2002--A letter from Vice-President Dick Cheneys White House counsel to Henry Waxman, D-Ca., the leading Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, indicated that six meetings of the Vice-President or members of his energy policy task force took place last year at which representatives of Enron were present. Vice-President Cheney met with CEO Ken Lay once on April 17 according to the letter dated Jan. 4 from David Addington (also revealed in a television interview with Cheney in May). The meetings of the policy task force took place between February and October. Six days after the final meeting, Enron restated earnings by $1.2 billion, precipitating a steep slide in the value of its stock. It has since filed for the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Waxman charged in a letter to Cheney that "access provided to Enron far exceeded the access provided by the White House to other parties interested in energy policy." He did not find the White House letter to be sufficiently informative, and has sought details concerning phone and e-mail communication between Enron and task force members, as well as documents from meetings and lists of those present.

Recommendations of the energy policy task force were issued in a report in May, containing policy details that were included in legislation subsequently approved by the Republican-controlled House. Waxman, Democrats and environmental groups have alleged that the meetings may have been conducted in violation of open meeting laws, taking place behind closed doors. Addington stated that access was not preferential. "The group's support staff held such meetings with a broad representation of people potentially affected by the group's work," he stated in the letter. The letter indicated that the meetings never touched on Enrons financial position, only policy issues.

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