The PR/Lobbying Response
Shield Perot Systems and Dynegy from regulators – and Congressional Republicans from public
outrage over deregulation.
Scapegoat Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat who was investigating Perot Systems.
Attack ads were waged against Gov. Davis over his handling of the energy crisis, creating publicity that
made Enron national news.
The media campaign was managed by Scott Reed on behalf of the American Taxpayers Alliance (ATA),
which was bankrolled by Reliant Energy – a company that was purchased by NRG, Dynegy’s California
Politically influenced witnesses reinforced Enron’s culpability in the media and before Congressional
committees while prosecutors aggressively pursued Enron.
Reinforcing the Narrative
Alex Gibney reinforced Enron’s guilt in a documentary, The Smartest Guys in the Room, which
featured politically motivated witnesses and highly emotive language designed to generate public
outrage against Enron to justify the prosecution of its executives while Perot Systems and
Dynegy largely avoided scrutiny.
Gibney’s film was distributed and promoted by Mark Cuban through Magnolia Pictures.
Enron CEO Jeff Skilling was prosecuted, maligned, and imprisoned.
Gov. Davis was recalled.
Perot Systems and Dynegy were shielded.
Dynegy acquired Enron’s “crown jewel” for pennies on the dollar.
Tribal interests acquired other Enron assets.
The Abramoff Scandal
ABRAMOFF: The Media Narrative
Republican superlobbyist Jack Abramoff was a criminal mastermind, racist, and psychopath
who ruthlessly exploited vulnerable Indians, cavorted with the mob, and murdered a business
rival to satisfy his insatiable greed.
Abramoff was prosecuted under ambiguously worded honest service fraud statutes, which have
since been declared unconstitutional.
His alleged crimes included, among other things, defrauding the seller of a fleet of casino ships
(SunCruz) in Florida, overcharging his Native-American clients, and buying Capitol Hill with
tickets to sports games, campaign contributions, and free meals.
Abramoff Scandal: What the Media Missed
Sen. John McCain, who presided over the Abramoff hearings, created a loophole in the
McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation that allowed Indian tribes to donate unlimited
amounts of campaign contributions and gifts, like meals and tickets to game, to legislators.
While Abramoff’s fees were comparatively high, other firms, including Akin Gump, which
employed McCain’s personal attorney, charged some tribal clients, like the Gila Indian Tribe,
Tribal leaders characterized Abramoff as Indian Country’s “most profitable casino,” given his
ability to take on the powerful casino lobby and win, preventing rival casinos from entering his
clients’ lucrative casino markets.
Before the Fall
When Abramoff entered the Florida casino market, the Seminole Tribe of Florida was
attempting to acquire permission from the state to pursue Las Vegas-style gambling.
The Seminoles were generating $500 million a year through bingo and wanted to offer slots on
the mainland, which would quadruple the tribe’s gambling intake.
SunCruz – a fleet of casino ships – was the Seminoles’ main competition.
Had Abramoff successfully acquired SunCruz, he would have lobbied hard and effectively to
eliminate the Seminoles as a competitor.
Abramoff was already running circles around the Seminoles’ lobbyists and advisors for casino
market share around the country, cutting into their profits.