Hollings Calls for Special Probe into Bush-Enron Ties

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A top Senate Democrat yesterday called for a special prosecutor in the Enron investigation, saying the Bush administration ran a "cash-and-carry government" for the failed energy firm.

"There's a culture of government corruption," said Sen. Ernest F. Hollings of South Carolina, chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. "I've never seen a better example of cash-and-carry government than this Bush administration and Enron."

He said the secretary of the Army "was moving to take over" the Pentagon's electricity contracts for Enron to broker; that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was "moving to deregulate" the electric industry; that Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill "was canceling the repeal of off-shore tax havens" and that Vice President Richard B. Cheney "was either lobbying India or lobbying California" on Enron's behalf for power projects.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan called those accusations "false and unsubstantiated allegations."

"It is disappointing that some are more interested in reading off of partisan Democratic attack memos ... than working together to try to prevent something like this from happening again," Mr. McClellan said. "The president believes we need to work together to implement the pension reforms he outlined."

Political strategists James Carville, Bob Shrum and Stan Greenberg wrote a memo last week advising Democrats to exploit the administration's ties to Enron for political advantage in this election year.

Mr. Hollings, whose panel will issue a subpoena today for former Enron Corp. CEO Kenneth L. Lay, said Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson should not handle the Justice Department's probe of Enron because his former law firm had Enron as a client.

"I don't think there should be any connection . …