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Enron Tapes: Market Manipulation & Bush Connections

[ More of the truth has been coming out about Bush’s nasty friends at Enron, who have contributed to Bush between $736,800 and $25 million. From the article:

The tapes … confirm traders deliberately drove up prices by ordering power plants shut down….

Before the 2000 election, Enron employees pondered the possibilities of a Bush win.

“It’d be great. I’d love to see Ken Lay Secretary of Energy,” says one Enron worker.

That didn’t happen, but they were sure President Bush would fight any limits on sky-high energy prices.

“When this election comes Bush will f——g whack this s–t, man. He won’t play this price-cap b——t.”…

Both the Justice Department and Enron tried to prevent the release of these tapes….

Former Enron chief Ken Lay is the only top company official who has never been charged with any crime.

Of course, Lay — “Kenny Boy” as W. has nicknamed him — is Bush’s number one lifetime donor. –BL ]

Enron Traders Caught On Tape

June 1, 2004 | CBS News

LOS ANGELES — When a forest fire shut down a major transmission line into California, cutting power supplies and raising prices, Enron energy traders celebrated, CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports.

“Burn, baby, burn. That’s a beautiful thing,” a trader sang about the massive fire.

Four years after California’s disastrous experiment with energy deregulation, Enron energy traders can be heard — on audiotapes obtained by CBS News — gloating and praising each other as they helped bring on, and cash-in on, the Western power crisis.

“He just f—s California,” says one Enron employee. “He steals money from California to the tune of about a million.”

“Will you rephrase that?” asks a second employee.

“OK, he, um, he arbitrages the California market to the tune of a million bucks or two a day,” replies the first.

The tapes, from Enron’s West Coast trading desk, also confirm what CBS reported years ago: that in secret deals with power producers, traders deliberately drove up prices by ordering power plants shut down.

“If you took down the steamer, how long would it take to get it back up?” an Enron worker is heard saying.

“Oh, it’s not something you want to just be turning on and off every hour. Let’s put it that way,” another says.

“Well, why don’t you just go ahead and shut her down.”

Officials with the Snohomish Public Utility District near Seattle received the tapes from the Justice Department.

“This is the evidence we’ve all been waiting for. This proves they manipulated the market,” said Eric Christensen, a spokesman for the utility.

That utility, like many others, is trying to get its money back from Enron.

“They’re f——g taking all the money back from you guys?” complains an Enron employee on the tapes. “All the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?”

“Yeah, grandma Millie, man”

“Yeah, now she wants her f——g money back for all the power you’ve charged right up, jammed right up her a—— for f——g $250 a megawatt hour.”

And the tapes appear to link top Enron officials Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling to schemes that fueled the crisis.

“Government Affairs has to prove how valuable it is to Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling,” says one trader.

“Ok.”

“Do you know when you started over-scheduling load and making buckets of money on that?

Before the 2000 election, Enron employees pondered the possibilities of a Bush win.

“It’d be great. I’d love to see Ken Lay Secretary of Energy,” says one Enron worker.

That didn’t happen, but they were sure President Bush would fight any limits on sky-high energy prices.

“When this election comes Bush will f——g whack this s–t, man. He won’t play this price-cap b——t.”

Crude, but true.

“We will not take any action that makes California’s problems worse and that’s why I oppose price caps,” said Mr. Bush on May 29, 2001.

Both the Justice Department and Enron tried to prevent the release of these tapes. Enron’s lawyers argued they merely prove “that people at Enron sometimes talked like Barnacle Bill the Sailor.”

Enron Tapes Anger Lawmakers

June 2, 2004 | CBS News

LOS ANGELES — During California’s rolling blackouts, when streets were lit only by head lights and families were trapped in elevators, Enron Energy traders laughed, reports CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales.

One trader is heard on tapes obtained by CBS News saying, “Just cut ’em off. They’re so f—-d. They should just bring back f—–g horses and carriages, f—–g lamps, f—–g kerosene lamps.”

And when describing his reaction when a business owner complained about high energy prices, another trader is heard on tape saying, “I just looked at him. I said, ‘Move.’ (laughter) The guy was like horrified. I go, ‘Look, don’t take it the wrong way. Move. It isn’t getting fixed anytime soon.”

California’s attempt to deregulate energy markets became a disaster for consumers when companies like Enron manipulated the West Cost power market and even shut down plants so they could drive up prices.

There was quick reaction in Washington to the Enron audiotapes first aired by CBS News last night, and the tapes have become part of the debate over the President’s massive energy bill.

“People were talking about market manipulation. People were talking about schemes, people were making jokes,” said U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

“While the president would like to have an energy bill, I’d like to have an energy bill that protects consumers,” said Cantwell.

Consumers like Grandma Millie, mentioned in one exchange recorded between two Enron employees.

Employee 1: “All the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?

Employee 2: “Yeah, Grandma Millie man.

Employee 1: “Yeah, now she wants her f—–g money back for all the power you’ve charged right up, jammed right up her a?for f—–g $250 a megawatt hour.”

It’s clear from the tapes that Enron employees knew what they were doing was wrong, and now lawmakers are responding.

“I will offer an amendment to compel the Bush administration to get off the dime and get back this money that has been stolen,” said Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash.

Another taped exchange between different employees regarding a possible newspaper interview goes like this:

Employee 3: “This guy from the Wall Street Journal calls me up a little bit ago?”

Employee 4: “I wouldn’t do it, because first of all you’d have to tell ’em a lot of lies because if you told the truth?”

Employee 3: “I’d get in trouble.”

Employee 4: “You’d get in trouble.”

Eventually, the lies unraveled and traders scrambled.

“I’m just — f–k — I’m just trying to be an honest camper so I only go to jail once,” says one employee.

Two Enron traders, from the office where the tapes were made, have admitted manipulating energy prices and pled guilty in court. Another goes on trial in October. Former Enron chief Ken Lay is the only top company official who has never been charged with any crime.

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