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WHO: U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft WHAT: On Jan. 10, Ashcroft announced he wouldn’t participate in the Department of Justice criminal investigation of Enron Corp. Ashcroft made the announcement after Congressman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, cited about $55,000 in campaign contributions the AG received during an unsuccessful bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2000. CONSEQUENCES: Larry Thompson, a former King & Spalding partner, will serve as acting AG on the Enron probe, unless congressional calls for his departure because of his former firm’s work for Enron succeed. So far, Spalding has fended off those who want Thompson off the probe, saying he never worked directly for the company. WHO: Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt WHAT: Despite calls from Democrats and Common Cause for Pitt to recuse himself because he previously advised accounting firm Arthur Andersen, Enron’s auditors, Pitt told The Wall Street Journal he has no intention to step aside from Enron. SEC spokeswoman Christi Harlan says, “We don’t comment on specific recusals.” CONSEQUENCES: Pitt attracts further scrutiny in The Wall Street Journal about his other potential conflicts of interest with major financial companies and accounting firms. WHO: Texas Attorney General John Cornyn WHAT: Twenty-four hours can make a difference. When the nonprofit group Texas Watch, headed by executive director Dan Lambe, first asked Cornyn to step away from the Enron investigation because of his campaign contributions, the AG flat-out resisted. “This isn’t the time for John Cornyn to recuse himself from duty,” his spokeswoman, Jane Shepperd, told The Associated Press. But the next day, Cornyn withdrew. “No matter how earnestly I want to fulfill the duties entrusted to me by the voters of Texas, I have decided to withdraw from participation in the Enron investigation,” his statement says. CONSEQUENCES: Cornyn’s flip-flop sets even political analysts from his party on edge. “I don’t know what he was thinking,” says one prominent Houston presidential appointee who requests anonymity. WHO: U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal of Houston WHAT: On Jan. 11, the federal judge removed herself — without offering further explanation — from Enron litigation pending in federal court in Houston. Earlier, Rosenthal consolidated Enron suits into three groups: one alleging securities fraud; one filed by employees who invested retirement money in Enron’s 401(k) program; and the third is derivative suits filed by shareholders. Rosenthal didn’t return telephone calls seeking comment by press time. CONSEQUENCES: Lawyers on the litigation fear the assignment of U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon of Houston could delay the case. But Harmon already signed her first order Jan. 15 and set a hearing for emergency motions on Jan. 22. WHO: Marc Racicot, former Republican governor of Montana, current Bracewell & Patterson partner and newly appointed U.S. GOP chairman WHAT: Under pressure from Common Cause and the right side of his party, Racicot, who always is cited as a close friend of President George W. Bush, dropped his assignment as an Enron lobbyist Jan. 10. CONSEQUENCES: Racicot, who previously agreed to forgo the Republican National Committee chairmanship’s $150,000 salary, told The Associated Press his salary from the firm would remain the same for now but would be reduced in the future. But Pat Oxford, managing partner for Houston’s Bracewell & Patterson, says, “There’s no agreement to reduce his salary. His draw will get reviewed yearly like every partner.” Oxford does note that Enron generated about 5 percent of the firm’s revenues in 2001. “The biggest problem I have with Enron, though, is how much all my friends over there are hurting,” Oxford says.

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