Ken Lay Was Not "Lynched"

Last week, just after former Enron Chairman Ken Lay died of a heart attack in Colorado, I caught a ton of flak from many ofyou when I suggested that he had not "gotten away with anything" by dying before he reached a federal prison. Today, one day after his memorial service in Houston, I am back to say that by the same token I think it is preposterous to say, as some did at the service, that Lay was the victim of a "lynching" by prosecutors, the press, and the thousands of men and women of Enron who lost it all when the company went bankrupt.

There is no contradiction in those two positions. I think Lay died as a direct result of the stress he felt in the wake of his felony convictions following his federal trials in Houston. I think he died at the lowest ebb in his life and with the knowledge that he was, in the main, a hated figure in his beloved hometown. But I also think that he alone was repsonsible for his predictment; that he deliberately and continuously turned a blind eye to the massive corporate fraud that was taking place at his beloved company. A jury and a judge said so and no legal fiction that Lay's conviction now dies with him changes the fact that he was deemed guilty beyond a reasonable doubt after a full and complete trial.

To call Lay a victim of anything other than his own hubris is to insult the people who trusted him, and Enron, and lost their jobs, their pensions, their homes and everything else when it turned out that Enron was rotten to its glitzy core. I understand that Lay did a great many good things in his life-- that he gave away millions and millions of dollars to various charities and otherwise helped a great many people who needed it. Good people do bad things. And bad people do good things. Lay was both a sinner and a saint. But the one thing he wasn't was a victim.


By Andrew Cohen |  July 13, 2006; 12:00 PM ET
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Let's understand and appreciate the lay of the land before coming down on one side or the other. There is a substantial public record to consider. Perhaps friends have additional information; but it will not be subject to the cross examination that took place in the court room. Look at business texts pre-2001 via indexes to learn about Lay before the fall and compare it to post 2000 events. Look at the whole picture. Consider the times. Consider the politics that Lay was involved in.

Posted by: Shag from Brookline | July 13, 2006 04:48 PM

people that were prosecuted publically are both dead, that is both convenient and predictable. There's also three Enron people that were extradited summarialy from Britain...you can read about that on Postglobal blogsite. Perhaps they'll disappear too....wouldn't that be convenient. Washington DC might as well be a backwater town in Louisana as far as being able to trust the government/police is concerned....right now.

Is it true that GITMO detainees are actually litigants in a lawsuit with the United States...suing a United States company....wherein the matter was settled by a military intervention in Afghanistan making the whole 13 Trillion dollar deal a moot point?

Posted by: it's interesting that both | July 17, 2006 07:57 PM

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