Cheney Under Fire On Energy

Cheney Face The Nation
It was a private meeting, but Congress wants to know who was there.

Congressional investigators are turning up the heat on the White House to identify just who met privately with Vice President Cheney's energy task force.

Cheney's lawyer has been sent a ten-page letter telling him of the General Accounting Office's legal right to the lists.

The letter advises Cheney that it may make a formal demand for the information, after weeks of making polite requests. A GAO spokeswoman says the agency would be authorized to file civil suit to get the information.

The GAO, at the request of Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and John Dingell, D-Mich., the ranking minority members of the House Governmental Reform and Energy Committees, respectively, petitioned the White House for a list of all task force meetings held, and a complete accounting of all attendees.

"We ought to have the basic information of who participated, what interest groups came in and made their case, so that we can look at the recommendations to see whether they got what they asked for," said Waxman last week.

The White House has said the GAO does not have the authority to ask for names of participants.

Cheney's task force met with more than 130 interest groups while putting together the Bush administration's national energy plan, but disclosed only four meetings – one high-profile event with labor leaders, and three others with environmental and consumer groups.

The White House has come under stinging criticism for its ties to the oil, gas and energy industries. Much of the attention has focused on top political advisor Karl Rove, who held up to a quarter of a million dollars in stock in energy giant Enron Corporation even as the task force was forming policy.

Rove, who has since sold the stock, has denied any conflict of interest.

Rove has also come under fire for his financial ties to another company that had business with the administration. He owned at least $100,000 in Intel stock when he met at the White House with Intel executives pushing for federal approval of a corporate merger. The merger was later approved by the administration.

Last week, President Bush backed up his aide.

"My level of confidence with Karl Rove has never been higher. He gives me sound advice. He adheres to the ethical rules of our government. And he's doing a great job on behalf of the American people," said Mr. Bush.

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