January 14, 2002 - Hartford Courant: RPCV Christopher Shays says Washington tainted by Enron Contributions

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By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, January 14, 2002 - 11:07 am: Edit Post

RPCV Christopher Shays says Washington tainted by Enron Contributions

Read and comment on this story from the Hartford Courant on RPCV Congressman Christopher Shays and his comments that Washington is tainted by Enron contributions at:

Shays: Washington tainted by Enron contributions *

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Shays: Washington tainted by Enron contributions

January 14, 2002 Associated Press

GREENWICH, Conn. -- White House officials and members of Congress have been tainted by their relationships with executives of bankrupt Enron, U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays said.

Shays, R-4th District, made the comments Sunday at a meeting with constituents at Greenwich Town Hall.

Houston-based Enron, once the nation's seventh largest corporation and a major contributor to political campaigns, filed for bankruptcy Dec. 2 and faces federal investigations.

The company's sudden failure has left the one-time energy trading behemoth's stock virtually worthless and thousands of workers' pension funds in disarray.

Since 1990, Enron and its employees contributed $5.77 million to political campaigns, about three-fourths of it to GOP candidates. About half of the money was spent in the 2000 election, with President Bush a major beneficiary.

Enron has been the largest contributor to President Bush's political career. The company has donated more than $550,000 to his campaigns for governor and president.

"The appearance is terrible," Shays said. "Anytime you have a company that failed, that is involved in illegality, whoever knows the people who've been running the company is going to be tainted."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., agreed with Shays.

"We're all tainted by the millions and millions of dollars that were contributed by Enron executives, which ... creates the appearance of impropriety," McCain said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation."

McCain acknowledged getting $9,500 in Enron contributions in two Senate campaigns. Shays has not received money from Enron, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Responsive Politics.

McCain and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Connecticut, said on "Face the Nation" that the government's response to Enron's collapse, and earlier federal monitoring of the company's business practices, may have been hampered by the company's campaign contributions.

Lieberman, whose Committee on Governmental Affairs in leading Senate investigations into the Enron debacle, said he received $1,000 from the company in his 1994 Senate campaign.

Lieberman said one focus of his committee's investigation will be "whether any of the influence" from Enron money affected the administration's handling of the Enron collapse, or oversight by federal agencies.

"I don't feel at all compromised," added Lieberman, referring to his committee's investigation.

The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission also have launched investigations into Enron's collapse, the largest bankruptcy in American history.

Shays, of Bridgeport, is sponsoring campaign finance reform legislation that would prohibit corporations from donating to political candidates.

"Corporations shouldn't be contributing to political campaigns," Shays said. "The individuals can, but not the corporate treasury."

Shays said it does not appear any government officials did anything improper or gave Enron preferential treatment. But he said the company's access to top administration officials is evidence of the corrupting power of money.

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