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Cheney, Aides Met With Enron 6 Times in 2001
Counsel: Energy Policy Was Topic

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By Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 9, 2002; Page A03

The White House told Congress in a letter released yesterday that Vice President Cheney or his aides met six times with Enron Corp. representatives last year, including a session two months before the energy trading company made the largest corporate bankruptcy filing in American history.

The meetings continued after President Bush released the energy policy that Cheney's staff had developed, according to the letter. Five of the meetings were with Cheney aides, and one was with the vice president. One of the staff meetings occurred six days before Enron announced actions that reduced its shareholder equity by $1.2 billion.

Cheney met for half an hour on April 17 with Kenneth L. Lay, Enron's chairman, according to a Jan. 3 letter by David S. Addington, the vice president's counsel. The letter was written in response to a Dec. 4 request by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), ranking minority member of the House Committee on Government Reform, who released the correspondence.

Addington wrote that Cheney and Lay "discussed energy policy matters, including the energy crisis in California, and did not discuss information concerning the financial position of the Enron Corporation."

Cheney's office has resisted inquiries into the operations of his energy policy task force by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, and by Senate Democrats who are hoping to measure Enron's influence on policy.

The Houston-based company has longtime personal and financial ties to Bush. Waxman said the letter "shows that the access provided to Enron far exceeded the access provided by the White House to other parties interested in energy policy."

Bush released his energy plan on May 17, and Enron filed for bankruptcy protection on Dec. 2. Addington's letter said Cheney's National Energy Policy Development Group existed from Jan. 29 through Sept. 30, 2001.

Addington said the group's staff met with Enron representatives on Feb. 22 and March 7. On April 9, the staff met with about two dozen representatives of various utilities, including one from Enron. Cheney aides met with officials of a German subsidiary of Enron on Aug. 7 and with Enron representatives on Oct. 10. Enron announced huge losses on Oct. 16.

"Enron did not communicate information about its financial position in any of the meetings with the Vice President or with the National Energy Policy Development Group's support staff," Addington wrote.

He noted that Cheney and Lay served on a panel at the American Enterprise Institute World Forum on June 24. "The panel was widely attended and addressed energy matters," the counsel wrote. "There was no discussion of information concerning the financial position of Enron Corporation."

A White House official said the meetings reflected the "open and inclusive" approach of Cheney's energy task force.

Bush told reporters on Dec. 28 that he is "deeply concerned about the citizens of Houston who worked for Enron who lost life savings" when its stock value collapsed. He said he supports moves by Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission to look into that issue. "I have had no contact with Enron officials in the last six weeks," Bush said.

© 2002 The Washington Post Company

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