WASHINGTON – Four top Democratic senators Wednesday gave their full support to a General Accounting Office inquiry into meetings between the Bush White House and industry leaders on administration energy policy.
The senators, including Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Carl Levin of Michigan, are spearheading the Senate probe of energy trading company Enron. They said the GAO should press its long-standing requests for White House contacts with the energy industry.
"Who helped shape the administration's energy policy?" the senators wrote comptroller general David Walker.
In the letter, the four said "the American public deserves answers" to whom the Bush White House met with and what the business leaders asked for.
"Our concern is that we would be setting a dangerous precedent, and would be shirking Congress's oversight responsibilities if these questions were not asked, or of the Administration is allowed to avoid answering them," the letter stated. It was sent to the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, on Wednesday. It was also signed by Sens. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Ernest "Fritz" Hollings of South Carolina.
Lieberman's Government Affairs Committee opens hearings Wednesday into the collapse of Enron, whose representatives met six times with Vice President Dick Cheney or aides on the nation's energy policy. One discussion took place in mid-October, just before the company's sudden collapse.
Levin chairs the Governmental Affairs investigations subcommittee which has issued 51 subpoenas and plans to focus on the "deceptive practices" of Enron, and the failure of its auditors to raise flags about the energy company's business practices and of its directors as corporate watchdog.
Dorgan chaired a Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer affairs hearing last month into the financial losses suffered by Enron employees and retirees whose savings were largely in Enron stock that they were unable to sell before the company collapsed. Hollings chairs the Commerce Committee.