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Enron Official's Final Note Released

April 12, 2002|From Associated Press

SUGAR LAND, Texas — An anguished note left behind by a former Enron Corp. executive who killed himself in January makes no specific mention of the energy giant's collapse but says, "Where there was once great pride, now it's gone."

The police department in this Houston suburb released the seven-sentence note from John Clifford Baxter immediately after the Texas attorney general's office issued an opinion that the document was a public record.

About two hours later, a judge granted a request from Baxter's family for a temporary restraining order sealing the handwritten note. The family had opposed its release, citing privacy issues.

Baxter, who resigned as vice chairman in May 2001, months before Enron collapsed, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Jan. 25. He was 43.

The note, addressed to his wife, Carol, said: "I am so sorry for this. I feel I just can't go on. I have always tried to do the right thing but where there was once great pride now it's gone. I love you and the children so much. I just can't be any good to you or myself. The pain is overwhelming. Please try to forgive me." It was signed, "Cliff."

The note was handwritten in all capital letters on a blank sheet of paper. An attorney for the family, Pike Powers, has said it was left in Carol Baxter's car in the garage of the family home. The home is a half-mile from the spot where his body was found.

Police spokeswoman Pat Whitty said officials saw no reason to delay release of the note once the attorney general's office issued its opinion. However, she said the restraining order was granted before photos of Baxter's body and car were released, so those items will not be made public immediately.

The attorney general's office had until Friday to make a decision. It turned aside arguments that the note might embarrass or invade the privacy of Baxter's family, "given the substantial public interest in the causes of Enron's failure and its far-reaching consequences."

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