As a result, 212 of the 248 members of the House and Senate who sat on the relevant committees when Congress opened an investigation into Enron in early 2002 had accepted campaign contributions from Enron or its criminal accountancy firm Arthur Andersen. Even the less senior employees at Enron seemed to have taken a hit at first. They relaxed and watched as the value of their retirement savings, which in large part came from
Enron stock went on and on and on. But the company’s phenomenal success did not last … and it was based on fraud. Much of the corporation’s profits were made through the creation of letterbox companies and faked through dubious (and perhaps criminal) accounting practices. It is unclear how much of the whole story will ever come out, as important documents were destroyed before investigators could see them. In any case, the pyramid called Enron collapsed in the fall of 2001. And while the US was in shock over September 11th, Enron’s board members were busy limiting damage, selling stocks and destroying files. Neither did the national crisis after the attacks stop them from seeking help from their comrades in the Bush administration. Enron executives called Trade Secretary Don Evans and then Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill asking for help as the company was on the verge of collapse. Evans and O’Neill said there was nothing they could have done when senior management told them about the rogue thing with the mailbox companies and the impending collapse, and Bush later proudly used that behavior as evidence that the administration was failing one of the president’s major campaign donors Had granted special discounts. That’s right. The government took pride in the fact that it did nothing when millions of Americans were cheated of their money. And that these Americans could be plucked was largely due to the fact that the Bush administration stood idly by the corporation’s rampage. When George W. Bush finally faced the press,
When Enron officially went bankrupt in December 2001, stock market gurus and investors across the country were shocked. -207-
But “bankrupt” meant a different thing to Enron executives than it did to us mortals. The company’s 2001 bankruptcy filing identified 144 executives who received a total of $ 310 million in compensation and an additional $ 435 million in shares. That was an average of $ 2 million in compensation per capita plus another $ 3 million in stocks. And while the big animals were counting their millions, thousands of Enron workers lost their jobs and most of their savings. Enron had three savings plans for its employees, and at the time of bankruptcy there were 20,000 savers. The pension funds consisted of 60 percent of Enron shares.