WASHINGTON — Former Enron Corp. Chief Executive Jeffrey K. Skilling fired back Friday at congressional leaders who have questioned his honesty and integrity.
In a letter to leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Skilling accused lawmakers of using taxpayer money to subsidize a public relations effort at his expense.
"It has become clear ... that your subcommittee's inquiry has devolved from an honorable quest for the truth into a media circus in which members of Congress throw around half-truths and distortions at will," Skilling wrote.
On Thursday, congressional committee leaders, including Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (R-La.) and James C. Greenwood (R-Pa.), said Skilling's recent testimony about his role in Enron's collapse conflicts with the recollections of other Enron employees, raising serious questions about the accuracy of Skilling's testimony.
In an interview on CNN's "Larry King Live" that aired Friday night, Skilling said, "It's an election year, and during an election year, I guess you would expect something like that to happen, but I think that Congress is acting as judge and jury."
During his first television interview since Enron's Dec. 2 bankruptcy, Skilling defended his former boss, saying he did not believe former Enron Chairman Kenneth L. Lay was aware of any accounting problems or improprieties at the company.
Until Aug. 14--the date Skilling resigned--"I can't believe that Ken would have had any knowledge of an issue with the accounting statements," Skilling said.
Skilling, who has insisted he didn't know of any problems, declined to point the finger at former Chief Financial Officer Andrew S. Fastow, who ran and profited from the off-the-books partnerships that led to Enron's collapse.
"Andy is a very bright, very energetic person," Skilling said. "And just in the same way that I sure hope people aren't pointing accusing fingers at me, I'm going to wait and see how the facts come out before I want to start pointing fingers at anybody else."