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by Sam Kinch, Jr., “the dean of Texas political reporters” and founder of Texas Weekly, Texas’ largest political newsletter Anne Marie Kilday, political reporter and writer Enron Ain’t the Only One Big Money and Political Power in Texas Naked Emperors, continued from page 7 Enron has also funneled thousands of dollars to Supreme Court justices and other Republican officials through a special interest PAC called Texans for Lawsuit Reform, for which Ken Lay has been a major funder. A handful of deeppocketed Republicans have made the group, one of several seeking to limit access by plaintiffs to Texas courts \(under recent years. The PAC and its members collectively have been Cornyn’s single biggest career contributor, pitching in a staggering $1.98 million over the last five years. Nowhere has TLR’s influence been greater than on the Supreme Court, which has gradually shifted from being generally considered pro-plaintiff to what is now considered one of the most staunchly pro-defendant courts in America. According to a report by Texans for Public Justice, Enron has fared unusually well before the court, which has accepted two of three petitions brought by Enron \(both of which brought by adversaries against Enron. Last spring,Texas politicians and ratepayers watched nervously as California’s deregulation experiment imploded, and the state’s own countdown to competition wound down. A series of mysterious price spikes during a pilot program last summer sent Texas regulators scrambling to determine if anyone might be “gaming” the system.The findings were inconclusive, and it’s too soon to tell how competition will play out in the state. “I think we’re going to have to come back to the legislature to make the whole process more transparent, said Public Citizen’s Tom Smith. “In the old vocabulary of politics there used to be an element of populism that was conservative,” said Bill White, a Houston businessman and longtime Democratic party funder. “Before they would make a dramatic change in the way people got electricity, people would take it slow and careful.” That was not the Enron way. “Their executives with their high profile civic and political activities, part of what it did was it gave them this aura, sort of ‘These people are the new establishment, and these are smart people who play their cards well,’ he said. “And it turned out they were spending money they didn’t have.” Editorial, continued from page 3 would not be uncharacteristic of Bush, who made restricting access to the courts a centerpiece of his tenure as Texas governor. On the energy side, Halliburton execs may have wanted to discuss U.S. sanctions policy with the vice president. It’s a sensitive topic for Cheney. While overseeing the Department of Defense, he helped enforce sanctions regimes against first Libya and then Iraq. Later, at Halliburton, he developed a more nuanced view of American foreign policy, and the company earned millions on contracts in both countries. Cheney argued in a 1998 speech that the U.S. had become “sanctions happy,” and that it was “very hard to find specific examples where [sanctions] actually achieve a policy objective.” That same year, Robert Bryce reported, Cheney lobbied Congress for an exemption to the Iran Libya Sanctions Act. In 1995, Brown & Root was fined $3.8 million, according to The Baltimore Sun, for using a foreign subsidiary to violate the Libya sanctions. The Financial Times of London has documented similar deals with Iraq, where Halliburton’s oilfield services contractsobtained through foreign subsidiarieshave made them the single biggest U.S. contracthe sanctions began. NB 20 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 2/15/02