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Enron, Etc.

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Lay to Rest.

In a surprising coda to the Enron trial, company founder, presidential confidant, and recently convicted felon Ken Lay died this morning of a heart attack. His dubious legacy: “Enron’s bankruptcy filing cost thousands of workers their jobs, spooked investors into doubting the integrity of the stock market and spurred lawmakers to enact the most significant changes to corporate practices in more than 70 years.

Lay Down / The Skilling Moon.

‘Enron is one of the great frauds in American business history,’ said James Post, a professor of management at Boston University. ‘But it is also a symbol of a particular era of management practice.’” In a strange confluence of ill omens for the current administration, a jury finds finds Enron heads Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling guilty on multiple counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, and securities fraud, with sentencing set for 9/11. For their part, Lay and Skilling immediately began talking appeal, but perhaps that’ll be unnecessary. After all, surely “Kenny-Boy” can wrangle a pardon from his boy Dubya, particularly after he spent all that time crafting Dubya’s energy policy.

The Raptors Bite Back.

“‘We rely on those transactions,’ Mr. Lay said during the September meeting, according to Mr. Glisan. ‘They are imperative for us to hit our numbers and we will continue to do them.‘” Prosecutors begin to wrap up their case in the Enron trial with the testimony of former Enron treasurer Ben Glisan, Jr., who is currently serving a five-year prison term for his part in the fraud. (He created Enron’s “Raptors,” “four fragile financial structures…used to house assets and investments and to hide losses.”) According to the NYT, he “provided some of the strongest testimony against Mr. Lay heard by the jury so far.

Enron’s End Run.

“Fastow, in a nervous but steady voice, spent most of his first six hours on the stand describing quid pro quo deals he arranged with Jeffrey K. Skilling, then Enron’s chief executive. He said Skilling was so obsessed with making the company look good for Wall Street that Skilling approved of sham deals that helped the company meet its earnings targets while Fastow…personally skimmed millions of dollars off the transactions.” Following last week’s damning testimony by Kevin Hannon (“They’re on to us“), former Enron Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow took the stand yesterday as part of a plea deal. The prosecution’s star witness in the Enron case, Fastow is “also prosecutors’ most personally tainted witness, a man who admitted to stealing and involving his wife in fraud and who described himself Tuesday as sometimes ‘obnoxious’ and ‘opportunistic.’” Sounds like he was in good company. Update: On Day 2, Fastow implicates Ken Lay, and the defense sharpen their knives.


Well, I guess that explains why the GOP didn’t swear ’em in. The Post obtains a smoking gun document that proves, contrary to their statements last week, big-time oil executives met with Cheney’s energy task force to determine the nation’s energy policy in 2001. No big surprise there — While Cheney has been trying to hide records of the meetings for years, we’ve known that 62 of 63 members of the task force had ties to the coal, nuclear, or oil industries, with nary an environmental group in sight. Plus, it was clear at the time that the final energy plan was tailored by Enron for Enron, and their ilk. Still, this does mean that Big Oil lied bald-faced to Congress (and specifically Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who asked them about this directly.) And, while perjury’s not on the table, “a person can be fined or imprisoned for up to five years for making ‘any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation’ to Congress.”

Puppets of Industry.

Fortune 500 companies that invested millions of dollars in electing Republicans are emerging as the earliest beneficiaries of a government controlled by President Bush and the largest GOP House and Senate majority in a half century…Bush and his congressional allies are looking to pass legal protections for drug companies, doctors, gun manufacturers and asbestos makers, as well as tax breaks for all companies and energy-related assistance sought by the oil and gas industry.” In the stating the obvious department, the Washington Post discovers the Republicans are in the thrall of corporate power.

The Halftime Score.

Monica who? On the eve of Dubya II, Salon‘s Peter Dizikes offers a short but comprehensive list of this administration’s scandals thus far. Thirty-four and counting…not that you’d know it from watching the evening news.

Youa Culpa.

Former Enron chief Ken Lay attempts damage control in the New York Times. “‘If anything, being friends with the Bush family, including the president, has made my situation more difficult,’ Mr. Lay said in a recent interview, ‘because it’s probably a tougher decision not to indict me than to indict me.’” Yeah, ok, buddy.

California Scheming.

Transcripts emerge of Enron officials bragging about “stealing money from California…to the tune of a million bucks or two a day.” Whatsmore, it appears that former chairman and Bush buddy Ken Lay, who has not yet been charged with any Enrongate malfeasance, knew full well that his company was extorting millions from the likes of “Grandma Millie from California.” Shady.

The Puppet President.

There are conservatives and there are conservatives. Is Dubya a free market Friedmanite? Nope, just a stooge for business.

Werewolves of Baghdad.

Slate correspondent Daniel Benjamin pokes holes in Condi and Rummy’s recent spurious comparisons between postwar Iraq and Germany. Yep, it’s more revisionist history emanating from Team Dubya. In related news, Jack Beatty laments Dubya’s lack of postwar vision, which now seems ever more constrained to lining the coffers of Halliburton.

Enron all over again?

Hmmm. Apparently FirstEnergy, the Ohio company at the heart of the blackout investigations, is headed by major Dubya donors. Why am I not surprised?

Summoning the Spirit of Enron.

After a week of considerable coverage for Dean (due to his second-quarter funding success), John Edwards tries to get back in the game by unveiling his corporate accountability plan. As usual, I think Edwards is playing this smart. The issue shores up his Populist creds while drawing attention to an area where Dubya is dismal. And Edwards still holds a trump card, in that he is the only top-tier candidate with an answer to the Dem’s Southern problem. It’d be nice to see Edwards, Dean, and Kerry go head-to-head-to-head in a real debate, but first the field still needs to be culled, of course.

Lest we forget.

The Corporate Scandals of 2002. You know, the ones that were all over the news before Saddam began his unchecked aggression again. Wait a tic…when did Saddam…? Now I’m confused.

Slinking out the Back Door.

Oh, and by the way, Harvey Pitt resigned yesterday, right after the polls had closed in the East. After all, we wouldn’t want to remind anyone of how thick the corporate corruption surrounding Dubya and his minions runs until after the election now, would we? As it turns out, the GOP-controlled Congress probably won’t look into SEC malfeasance anymore anyway.

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