Goodlatte and the Close the Enron Loophole story

Column by Chris Graham
freepress2@ntelos.net

“Countdown with Keith Olbermann” reported this week on the John McCain campaign’s ties to lobbyists who were leading players in the fight to preserve the so-called “Enron loophole” that some analysts are blaming for the artificial jump in crude-oil prices that are killing us all at the gas pump.

In the course of doing research into the PACs that have contributed to the Bob Goodlatte re-election campaign this year, I found some ties there that might be of interest to voters in the Sixth District.

The Swiss financial firm UBS, which in 2001 purchased the remains of Enron’s energy-trading business, has contributed through its UBS Americas subsidiary $2,500 to the Goodlatte campaign this election cycle, according to a report on the website opensecrets.org. According to the “Countdown” report, UBS, through former lobbyist (and former United States senator, and current McCain economic adviser) Phil Gramm, lobbied Congress about commodity-trading rules in 2006; and in 2007, through another lobbyist, former Gramm aide John Savercool, UBS lobbied against the passage of legislation known as the Close the Enron Loophole Act, which aimed to reverse the 2000 law (which had been shepherded through the Senate by, all of people, then-Senate Banking Committee chair Phil Gramm) that at the behest of one-time energy-industry heavy Enron allowed for the trading of commodities on electronic platforms without federal oversight.

The New York Mercantile Exchange is also on the Goodlatte contributor list in the ’08 cycle, according to opensecrets.org. NYMEX, which hired the lobbying firm run by the McCain campaign’s finance co-chair, Wayne Berman, last year to lobby against the Close the Enron Loophole Act, according to the “Countdown” report, has contributed $2,500 to Goodlatte’s re-election campaign in the ’08 election cycle,

Another PAC that shows up on the Goodlatte list on opensecrets.org that looked worth exploring in the context of this column is the Future Industry Association, which has contributed $2,000 to the Goodlatte campaign this cycle. A Google search of the FIA led me to a story on a September 2007 hearing on the Close the Enron Loophole Act in which the association expressed its opposition to the act.

The Close the Enron Loophole Act was referred to the House Agriculture Committee in September 2007. Goodlatte is the committee’s former chairman and currently its ranking Republican member.

The act was later subsumed within the 2007 Farm Bill that was recently passed by Congress with Goodlatte’s support.

I have not found anything in reference to any specific votes taken in the House Agriculture Committee or on the House floor that would give an indication as to how Goodlatte stood specific to the Close the Enron Loophole Act.

The only thing that would seem to be at all related is this story referring to a May 1 conference discussion of foreign-exchange contracts.

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