Salon has not one, but two good pieces on Enron today. The first is Scott Rosenberg in full rant mode (sadly, Premium only), arguing that the Enron rise and fall is obviously a political scandal. Here are a couple of choice paragraphs:
The Enron affair seems to have earned its “get out of jail free” card from the pundits because, so far, it seems that no one in the Bush administration was stupid enough to try to help the corporation last autumn as its fortunes circled the drain. And since Enron’s campaign-donation tentacles and friends-in-high-places influence appears to have extended to both parties — lopsided a good ways toward the Republicans but also boasting some serious Democratic names (including former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and New York Sen. Charles Schumer) — the Enron saga does not perfectly fit the capital’s partisan templates.
It may be that Enron and its officers did nothing in technical violation of the law. If so, the scandal lies precisely there: that what they did was legal when it plainly should have been outlawed; that they managed to buy the laws they needed to build the financial house of cards that earned them millions before crashing down on stockholders’ heads.
Salon also has a little scoop of their own. They’ve discovered that an Enron corporate attorney named Jordan Mintz took the radical step of hiring outside counsel himself to evaluate the legality of Enron’s partnership schemes. The firm recommended that Enron stop setting up the partnerships, and Mintz reported that to Enron execs, who ignored him, of course.
Even more shockingly, Enron’s CEO ignored the company’s treasurer when he expressed reservations about Enron’s partnership schemes. Apparently Enron treasurer Jeff McMahon told the CEO at the time, Jeff Skilling, that he could not continue to serve as treasurer unless Enron cleaned up its act with regard to the partnerships. Skilling responded him by “promoting” him to CEO of some random Enron subsidiary.