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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

White House Reveals Enron Ties

WASHINGTON -- White House officials had more extensive contacts with Enron executives in 2001 than previously disclosed, according to a document released by President George W. Bush's administration Wednesday in response to a request for information from a Senate committee.

The contacts -- including meetings, telephone conversations, letters and e-mail messages -- concerned the national energy policy report produced by Vice President Dick Cheney, the California energy crisis, Enron's collapse last fall and appointments to administration positions, including the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The White House document also disclosed that Kenneth Lay, the former Enron chairman, or other company executives attended numerous White House functions, including the 2001 inaugural, the Easter Egg roll, T-ball games, speeches and social events.

The release of the information came hours after a deeply divided Senate panel voted to issue two subpoenas to the White House for information about contacts with Enron, with Democrats accusing the White House of resisting earlier requests for information and Republicans suggesting that the move was politically motivated.

The White House document was prepared in response to an earlier request for information from the Governmental Affairs Committee, whose chairman is Democrat Senator Joseph Lieberman, the former vice presidential nominee.

Aides to Lieberman said Wednesday night that after a brief review of the document, the panel regards it as short of the information being sought.

"It appears the White House is still providing only what it thinks is relevant, rather than what the committee asked for,'' said Leslie Phillips, a spokeswoman for the committee. "We just don't know if the information is everything they collected, or just what they're willing to tell us. This would not have in any way averted a subpoena.''

The Governmental Affairs Committee voted 9-8 along party lines Monday morning to issue the subpoenas after more than an hour's debate that included a heated exchange between Lieberman and Republican Senator Thad Cochran.

The subpoenas were the first issued by Congress to the executive branch in the continuing inquiry into Enron's collapse and are likely to be resisted by the White House, which has frequently complained that Congress is encroaching on its executive power and constitutional prerogatives.

The subpoenas, delivered Wednesday afternoon to the offices of the president and vice president, call for all communications, including records of White House visits, between Enron and the White House since 1992 that in any way deal with eight federal agencies, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In addition, the subpoenas seek records of contacts between the White House and officials at the eight federal agencies regarding Enron. They also seek records of contacts between Enron and the White House over the formulation of the national energy policy.

The subpoenas demand that information be turned over by June 5. The White House called the action unnecessary Wednesday but did not immediately say whether it would contest the subpoenas.

A spokeswoman said White House officials were "rather perplexed'' that the panel "has taken this highly unusual step to issue subpoenas without having reviewed'' material the White House planned to turn over to the committee Wednesday evening.

Democrats on the committee said the White House had been dragging its feet.