Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The Fucks of Enron 

CBS has released a new batch of Enron tape transcripts, but they're disappointingly tame -- only one "fuck" on display (assuming that I have in fact interpreted CBS's chaste rendering, "f--k," correctly; I suppose it could stand for "fork," "flak," or "fink"), and it came on a day when the power traders, obviously tiring of California's charms, decided to spread the love around a little:
"I want to see what pain and heartache this is going to cause Nevada Power Company," says one Enron trader on the tapes. "I want to fuck with Nevada for a while."
California Senator Barbara Boxer's response, however, was neither disappointing nor tame. In fact, it was anything but:
[O]fficials at the FERC, the very agency charged with regulating energy companies, has [sic] not only known about the tapes for two years, but fought attempts to release them.

Now Senator Barbara Boxer of California has called on the FERC to go after those who gouged energy consumers and end those expensive contracts -- or else.

"I said wait a minute, who are you representing here, those folks who cheated us or the consumers," says Boxer.

"I'm calling on President Bush to ask for the resignation of any FERC commissioner who continues to stand in the way of justice for California consumers who were victimized during the energy crisis," she says.

But to add insult to injury, Enron and other energy companies hope to pull themselves out of bankruptcy by collecting on the contracts, and are now suing their victims.
A bloodbath at FERC would not have happy implications for such longtime FOEs (Friends of Enron) as Messrs. Cheney and Schwarzenegger -- a fact of which Sen. Boxer, bless her crafty heart, is doubtless aware.

UPDATE (6/17): Derek Cressman, in the S.F. Chronicle, on the Cheney-Lay romance:
Previously released Enron memos from December 2000 demonstrated that Enron was intentionally manipulating the California energy market through schemes called "Fat Boy" and "Ricochet." Tape transcripts recently released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Snohomish County Public Utility District near Seattle reveal the true extent of the greed embraced by Enron and its traders. Traders named Kevin and Bob joke about the millions of dollars they "stole" from "Grandma Millie" in California. Other traders openly talk about how the election of George W. Bush would benefit Enron. They boast that Enron was the No. 1 contributor to Bush's campaigns and predicted that Bush would end price caps that were impeding their unbridled profiteering.

Lay had long been grooming Bush as a supporter of policies that would be good for Enron. Lay was one of Bush's first donors to his 1994 campaign to unseat Texas Gov. Ann Richards, giving some $146,000 along with other Enron executives, according to Texans for Public Justice. Enron's contributions helped make Bush the early frontrunner in the Republican presidential primaries in 2000, causing candidates such as Elizabeth Dole to drop out before a vote was cast. Bush's war chest helped him defeat Sen. John McCain with a slew of negative advertising following McCain's upset victory in New Hampshire. Enron traders talked about Lay being appointed as energy secretary if Bush won the presidential election . . . .

We already know that Lay met with Vice President Dick Cheney at least once while Cheney was heading up an energy task force in early 2001 -- the same time California's electricity prices were skyrocketing. But Cheney refuses to say what they talked about. The Congressional General Accounting Office filed a lawsuit against the vice president, seeking to disclose the content of these meetings. The GAO lost in a lower court and opted not to appeal, but other cases by the citizen groups Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club were heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in April. The smoking gun to date has been that Lay handed Cheney a memo with Enron's recommendations for national energy policy; seven were incorporated into the plan.

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