Washington - At least three top White House advisers involved in drafting President Bush's energy strategy held stock in the Enron Corp. or earned fees from the large Texas-based energy trading company, which lobbied aggressively to shape the administration's approach to energy issues. Karl Rove, Bush's chief political strategist; Lawrence B. Lindsey, the top economic coordinator; and I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, all said in financial disclosure statement released on Friday that they already had or intended to divest themselves of holdings in Enron, the nation's leading trader and marketer of electricity and natural gas, as well as holdings in other energy companies.
Lindsey received $50,000 last year from Enron for consulting. Rove's statement said he intended to sell stock holdings in Enron valued at $100,000 to $250,000, though the statement does not make clear if he has completed the sale. Libby sold his stake in the company.
The financial disclosures for senior White House aides show that many of Bush's top advisers are millionaires. Among the wealthiest are Rove, Lindsey, Libby and Andrew Card, the chief of staff, who earned $479,138.77 as chief lobbyist for General Motors and reported assets of $810,000 to $2.1 million.
Enron was one of the largest contributors to Bush's presidential campaign. Chairman Kenneth Lay has close ties to Bush, as he did to Bush's father, and has had considerable access to the Bush White House.
Lay has been an aggressive proponent of deregulating electricity markets across the nation and was an early advocate in persuading California to begin its experiment with a competitive power market system. The Bush administration's energy strategy issued last month recommended opening protected lands to oil and gas drillers, building hundreds of power plants and easing some environmental controls, measures strongly favored by the industry. It suggested that the federal government exercise more power over electricity transmission networks, a longtime Enron goal.
Lay and other Enron officials interviewed several candidates to fill vacancies on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates Enron's main markets. Bush selected two people for the panel who were favored by Enron and some other energy companies.
White House officials have said that Enron's views were not crucial to their selections. "The energy task force had a singular goal -- to present a plan that best addressed America's energy needs," a White House spokeswoman said. "Any decisions made as part of that process were made with that one goal in mind."
Administration links to energy companies are wide-ranging. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice had stock holdings of $250,000 to $500,000 in the Chevron Corp. and earned $60,000 as a director of the company in the last year. She resigned her position and sold her shares.
Clay Johnson, director of presidential personnel, reported holding a stake in El Paso Energy Partners valued between $100,000 to $250,000. El Paso is a Houston oil and natural gas company. As part of his White House duties, Johnson has been involved in selecting people to fill vacancies at the energy regulatory commission, which oversees the natural gas market.
There was no indication in his disclosure statement that Johnson intends to sell his stake in El Paso. Rove and Libby's stakes in Enron were part of diversified stock portfolios. Rove also reported investments in BP Amoco and Royal Dutch Shell, as well as several leading pharmaceutical, technology and financial companies. Libby, a lawyer, sold tens of thousands of dollars' worth of energy stocks. They included Texaco, Exxon Mobil and Chesapeake Energy as well as Enron.
Lindsey, the director of the National Economic Council, reported the most ties to major American and international companies. His Washington consulting firm, Economic Strategies Inc., advised 67 leading American, European and Japanese banks and businesses, including American Express and Citibank. Lindsey was paid an annual salary of $918,785. He also reported $50,000 in consulting fees from Crow Family Holdings, a Dallas real estate concern, and Moore Capital, a leading hedge fund, as well as Enron.