As news surfaced that 31 state and local pension funds lost a combined $1.5 billion in the collapse of Enron, Florida leaders angrily denounced the Bush administration for refusing to turn over documents about ties to the bankrupt Enron Corporation. The Florida state pension fund lost $335 million when its 7.6 million Enron stocks plunged from $80 to 28 cents per share.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is now scrambling to distance himself from the Enron scandal, recently held a fundraiser to benefit his reelection campaign at the Houston home of former Enron President Richard Kinder.

The Florida state pension system is managed by 60 private “money managers,” including Alliance Capital Management (ACM). A top ACM executive, Frank Savage, is an Enron director. Even after Enron announced $1.2 billion in losses, Savage convinced the Florida pension fund managers to plow millions more into Enron stocks, $7.1 million on one occasion, and $11.7 million on another. As the state’s top elected official, Jeb Bush did nothing to halt this squandering of state employees’ money.

Tony Hill, a former Jacksonville longshoreman who served two terms in the Florida legislature, pointed out that Jeb Bush is a hardline advocate of privatizing the Florida state employees’ pension system. Hill, who is a new candidate for the Florida Senate, said the fight to defend seniors’ pensions and Social Security from Jeb – and George W. – Bush’s privatization scam will be a major election issue.

“If you think this Enron collapse is a scandal, consider what will happen if Jeb Bush succeeds in turning over the $110 billion in our state pension fund to the greedy folks on Wall Street,” Hill told the World.

“Already we are moving from a defined benefit pension system to a defined contribution system. That means the benefits will go down when the stock market goes down,” Hill said. “We are allowing people to opt out of the defined benefit plan and take their money somewhere else, trusting companies like Enron to guard our retirement money.

Tony Fransetta, president of the 110,000-member Florida Alliance of Retired Americans (ARA), blasted President Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney for stonewalling General Accounting Office requests for documents and information on Enron’s dealings with Cheney’s Energy Policy Task Force.

“Cheney had secret meetings with Enron executives and now he refuses to disclose the contents of those meetings where they discussed energy policy,” Fransetta said. “It shows the shameful politics of this administration.”

The Enron-supported energy deregulation policy “was enforced in California and they attempted to enforce it in Florida,” Fransetta said.

“Enron dictated who would be appointed to the energy task force,” Fransetta continued. “They dictated who would be chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. They dictated who would be elected. And now what we have is a president who wraps himself in the American flag and ignores a domestic agenda that reeks of Enron economics.”

Fransetta vowed that every chapter of the Florida ARA will work to mobilize the formidable senior vote to defeat Jeb Bush’s bid for reelection.

“The overriding issue in this election is the shameful disregard for accountability of these politicians who subscribe to Enron economics,” Fransetta said.

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