Mokhiber: Ari, Kenneth Lay is a close friend of the President's, and he
is also the head of Enron Corporation in Houston. The New York Times
reported last week that Mr. Lay made a call to Curtis Hebert, who is the
chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and that he
offered him a deal, according to the Times:
If Mr. Hebert changed his views on electricity deregulation, Enron
would continue to support him in his new job. The Times reported that
Mr. Hebert refused the offer, was offended, and thought that -- he knew
of Mr. Lay's affiliation with the President -- and thought the refusal
could put his job in jeopardy.
Two questions. One, is this dignified to have the President's friends
mau-mauing regulators who regulate their companies?
And second, is Mr. Hebert's job in jeopardy?
Ari Fleischer: The President makes all of his decisions on personnel
based on the merits of the people that he would seek to name.
In terms of -- I think your word was mau-mau, mau-mauing regulators --
for example, Governor Wilson has had some interesting things to say
about members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In fact one
of them will be meeting with Governor Wilson at the Governor's request.
So, it is not unusual at all for people on Commissions to meet with --
I'm sorry, Governor Davis -- to meet with people who have expressed
concerns about matters. But the President makes his decisions on
personnel about people based on the merits of the people.
Mokhiber: Is his job in danger? Is his job in danger?
. . .
Mokhiber: Ari, to follow up on the tax deal in the Senate --
Ari Fleischer: Yes, Russell.
Mokhiber: Princeton economist Paul Krugman put it this way
-- he said "they simply waived their hands and made all of the revenue
that will actually be lost in the last year of the ten-year tax period
-- hundreds of billions of dollars -- disappear from the accounting."
He called it "white-collar crime, pure and simple." And he said
Democratic Senators and Republican Senators alike who were involved with
it should be sentenced to "a minimum security installation somewhere
I'm wondering --
Ari Fleischer: Would they be provided with lifelong subscriptions to
Mr. Krugman's columns while they were there?
Mokhiber: Or the Corporate Crime Reporter?
Ari Fleischer: You did say something -- I'll leave it there.
Mokhiber: I had a question actually. . .
(Ari moves on.)