Enron Fibs about Lobbying Money
Embattled energy company Enron has revealed that it spent about three
times as much on lobbying in the first half of 2001 as it first
reported, according to an amended report the company filed with
Congress on March 1. The revision comes a little more than a month
after the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics notified the
Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House that Enron had
underreported its lobbying expenditures by at least 50 percent.
Enron's amended report, filed with Secretary of the Senate Jeri Thomson
and Clerk of the House Jeff Trandahl, shows that the company spent
$2.46 million on lobbying in the first six months of 2001, exceeding
its reported lobbying expenditures for all of 2000 ($2.1 million) and
1999 ($1.9 million). The company's original report stated that it had
spent $825,000 from January to June of 2001.
A letter from Enron's lawyer accompanying the amended filing raises
questions about the company's confidence in its own report -- which was
filed unsigned -- and alludes to the company's financial and legal
troubles. "We understand that Enron exercised great diligence in
preparing this amendment in an effort to accurately revise the
information contained in the original filing," wrote Enron attorney
Kenneth Gross. "However, there is no current employee who has personal
knowledge of much of the activity disclosed and no one is in a position
to sign the report on behalf of Enron.
"Unfortunately, virtually all the Enron employees who worked in the
Washington, D.C. office are no longer with the company," the letter
reads. "Moreover, those employees who are still with the company are
exposed for actions taken on behalf of Enron without indemnity or
director and officer liability coverage. We are advised that once
issues regarding indemnity and director and officer liability coverage
are resolved, then a company official will be in a position to submit a
signed copy of the report and will do so at that time."
The Center revealed in January that although Enron reported spending
$825,000 on lobbying in the first six months of last year, at least 16
outside lobbying firms reported income from Enron totaling no less than
$1,855,000 over the same period.
The Center sent a letter to Ms. Thomson and Mr. Trandahl complaining of
Enron's apparent violation of lobbyist reporting requirements under the
Lobbying Disclosure Act. The act requires companies to file semi-annual
lobbying reports with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the
House that identify their overall lobbying expenditures, including
payments to outside lobbying firms. Lobbying firms must reveal the
amount of income they receive from their clients.
The Secretary of the Senate's office notified the Center that it would
inquire with Enron about apparent discrepancies in the company's
initial filing. Enron's amended report was a response to that inquiry.
Click here to view the full report, including additional resources.
Steve Weiss is the communications director for the Center for Responsive Politics.