Kenny Boy's Connections

Robert Scheer

The Bush Family consistently acted to put Enron and its longtime CEO Ken Lay into a position to rip off investors and taxpayers. Why is the mass media ignoring that fact now that Lay has been convicted in arguably the most egregious example of white-collar fraud in US history?

Until he hooked up with the Bushes, Lay was just another mid-level energy trader complaining endlessly about being hemmed in by onerous government regulations and those terrible consumer lawyers who prevent free market hustlers from doing their thing. But after he and his company became top supporters of the Bushes--eventually giving $3 million combined to various Bush electoral campaigns and the Republican Party--doors opened for them in a big way. In particular, once Bush the father got rid of key energy industry regulations, Lay was a made man and Enron's fortunes soared. This program of corporate welfare led Lay to dub the first President Bush "the energy president" in a column supporting his re-election because "just six months after George Bush became President, he directed...the development of a new energy strategy," which, in effect, compelled local utility companies to carry Enron electricity on their wires. It was, Lay crowed, "the most ambitious and sweeping energy plan ever proposed."

Another huge gift from the first Bush regime came in the form of a ruling by Wendy Gramm, head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, that permitted Enron to trade in energy derivatives, making possible the company's exponential growth. Five weeks after that ruling, Gramm resigned and joined the Enron board of directors, serving on its subsequently much-criticized audit committee. Six years later, Gramm's husband, US Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, further enabled Enron greed by pushing through additional anti-regulation legislation.

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