Why didn't Ken Lay testify today?
Lay's lawyer cites the prosecutorial tone of comments from congressional investigators over the weekend. Most don't believe that. I kind of do and here's why.
I defy you to find me one congressman or elected official who hasn't already tried, convicted and executed Enron management in the press.
Billy Tauzin, a perfectly amiable chap, over the weekend went so far as to say some that execs may end up going to the pokey. He may be right.
Now, don't get me wrong. Maybe Enron has it coming to them — in spades. A lot of people lost a lot of money and they're a lot angry — justifiably. But there's a lot we don't know yet. Save this: scores of publicity-hungry elected officials who are acting shamefully. Doing more grandstanding than grand investigating.
Think about this: nearly a dozen House and Senate committees and sub-committees are looking into this mess. My hat's off to their judicial zeal, but is there some redundancy there?
More than a few of these fine men and women are no doubt looking to score political brownie points for going after this year's easy corporate villain. A punching bag everyone cheers punching.
You can count on the questions being a lot longer than the answers. The speeches a lot more winded than the substance. And a lot more hot button second-guessing than cool, rational debate.
That's the nature of the beast. Scandals always bring on this sort of behavior. Enron set up to look like the beast so many believe it to be. And it might very well be.
But how would you know? And how would you, where would you hear differently?
I've talked to securities lawyers, who tell me all they're hearing is unethical. But it isn't illegal. And it isn't unprecedented. Only the scope of this disaster.
No one's interested in hearing the Enron management story — they're crooks. I'm saying they may be. But in this kangaroo court of knee-jerk second-guessing, we'll never know.
Ken Lay could have tackled that head-on and stated his case. He chose not to. But maybe, just maybe, because he felt given the setup, he wouldn't be able to.
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