Politicians Trade Shots Over Enron (Waxman vs Cheney)

Original Source: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20020118/pl/enron_white_house_2.html

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Democratic congressional leader said he documented 17 provisions in Vice President Dick Cheney's energy plan that benefited Enron, and demanded anew that the White House list contacts with the bankrupt energy trading company.

The administration again refused on Thursday, calling the request by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., ``a partisan waste of taxpayer money.''

Waxman, the top Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, has been asking Cheney since April to turn over records on whom he met with as he developed the national energy strategy. Cheney has refused, though the White House acknowledged that Enron representatives met six times with Cheney or his aides on energy issues last year. Enron has been the largest single donor to President Bush.

Waxman said that because he was stonewalled, he did his own analysis of what Enron sought and what Enron got in the energy plan.

``The analysis reveals that numerous policies in the White House energy plan are virtually identical to the positions Enron advocated,'' Waxman wrote Cheney in a letter dated Wednesday.

Among the examples: energy deregulation initiatives, support for trading in energy derivatives, proposals to facilitate natural gas projects, the granting of eminent domain so power lines could be built more quickly and spur development in India.

``This creates the unfortunate appearance that a large contributor received special access and obtained extraordinarily favorable results in the White House energy plan,'' Waxman wrote.

Waxman's findings came as the administration was under intense scrutiny for its contacts with Enron in the weeks before it went bankrupt.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the energy plan contains only proposals that Bush and Cheney believed would help make the nation more energy-independent.

``The allegation by Congressman Waxman that anything was put in that plan for political purposes is, of itself, a partisan waste of taxpayer money,'' Fleischer said.

Fleischer promised that ``the administration will continue to be forthcoming in answering questions and providing information.''

But he again declined to provide specific lists of contacts between the administration and Enron during energy task force meetings.

``There is a very important principle involved here, and that is the right of the government and all future presidencies whether they are Democrat or Republican, to conduct reviews, to receive information from constituents, regardless of their party or their background, in a thoughtful and deliberative fashion,'' he said.

Asked whether releasing lists of contacts would reassure the public that nothing improper took place behind closed doors, Fleischer said: ``You're asking for us to prove a negative, and that's a road we're not traveling.''