Following on from structuring the scandal - Susan Bradford

The PR/Lobbying Response


Goals:


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.


Response:


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

subsidiary.


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.


The Aftermath


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,

even more.


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.

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