George Bush Sr. Attends Ken Lay Memorial Service
Those of you who keep coming back know that I like to have balance in the reporting on these pages. And since I've written a couple of critical posts about Ken Lay, I thought I'd provide some balance by telling you about Ken's memorial service.
After all, both former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara attended, so perhaps Ken Lay didn't really invent darkness in California, to drive up energy prices. Or could former President Bush have been in on the whole scam? Naah.
This is what Bloomberg reports:
Enron founder Kenneth Lay, convicted of a fraud that destroyed his company, was called a victim of ``a lynching'' by a mourner at a memorial service marred by the collapse of former Houston Mayor Bob Lanier.
Guests among the several hundred mourners included former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara, former U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III, ex-Secretary of Commerce Robert Mosbacher Sr., former Enron President John M. Seidl, heart surgeon Denton Cooley, Lay's defense lawyer Mike Ramsey and Drayton McLane Jr., owner of the Houston Astros baseball team.
``Ken Lay was neither black nor poor, but he was a victim of a lynching,'' Rev. William Lawson, a Houston civil rights leader, said today at the service in Houston.
Lay and his successor as Enron's chief executive officer, Jeffrey Skilling, 52, were convicted May 25 of spearheading the fraud that plunged Enron into bankruptcy in December 2001. They were scheduled to be sentenced in October. Lay, who died last week near Aspen, Colorado at age 64, was facing the prospect of spending the rest of his life in federal prison.
Lawson said history may redeem Lay's reputation.
``He was not the Ken Lay portrayed by the media, not the Ken Lay who was the butt of late-night jokes, not the Ken Lay who was convicted and vilified by a whole community.''
Seidl, who left Enron in 1989, criticized ``over-zealous federal prosecutors and media who vilified an exceedingly good man.'' Seidl said that while Lay would be remembered for his role in the collapse of Enron, he hoped history would eventually restore Lay's reputation as a ``straight arrow'' who ``did not have a criminal bone in his body.''
``Ken Lay wouldn't do anything illegal, even if you put a gun to his head,'' Seidl said.
Each of Lay's five adult children spoke at the service. Ten of his 12 grandchildren sang a brief contemporary Christian chorus, as they gathered in front of a candlelit altar flanked by a pair of three-foot arrangements of sunflowers.
Mark Lay said his father was drawing strength from his family and from scripture in his final days. On the day Lay died, his son said, he wrote in his journal about a Bible verse exhorting Christians to ``live by faith and not by sight.''
Former President Bush did not speak at the service, nor did Baker or Mosbacher. Skilling did not attend.
Sandra Lord, a Houston woman who conducts Enron-themed sightseeing tours, watched the scene outside the church for more than three hours. She was asked to leave her seat in the church sanctuary when Lay's supporters noticed she was taking notes.
``Unfortunately, this is now part of the Enron tour,'' Lord said following the service. ``It was like a Greek tragedy. But now, I'm going to go home watch a real soap opera.''