Out of the blue, I received a letter from Cara Ellison at the end of August 2008. In that letter, Cara said that she was working on a book about Enron, and she asked if I would be willing to talk with her. Here is my response, which I sent to her in an email on September 6, 2008:“Hello Ms. Ellison –
Thank you for the letter. I apologize for being so slow getting this response to you. My attorney’s office is in Dallas, and I spend all my time there. Incredibly, this past August 15th marked the six-year anniversary of the evening the FBI knocked on my door — that was the first inkling I had that the government had any interest in EBS. After nine versions of the indictment, countless motions, a trial, an ongoing appeal, an odd book by John Kroger, and a pending re-trial, I am still not quite sure what the government is thinking. Oh well, as I often joke with my attorney, ‘It’s not just an indictment, it’s a way of life!’
I am happy to hear that you are writing a book about Enron. The books published to-date seem to be strangely devoid of any real sense of Enron as an enterprise. And, of course, any mention in those books of EBS is shallow, at best. Even more important, no one has told the story of the Enron Task Force which, in my opinion, is the crucial tale here — it’s the story of the first major witch hunt of the 21st century.
The good news is that I will be happy to talk with you. I am not at all skittish about discussing EBS and my experiences with the Enron Task Force. The bad news is that I just don’t have time to talk until after my re-trial. I am consumed 24/7 with the trial preparation and really cannot focus on anything else until I win the case. Of course, given the current schedule, I should be on the other side of this sometime after the holidays. I hope this doesn’t interfere with your efforts.
By the way, if you are the Cara Ellison of blog fame, I am happy to meet you. I visit the blog frequently and am impressed with the analysis and spirit of the Enron-related posts. Maybe that’s what we need — a book that not only gets the facts right (finally), but one that also demonstrates some real passion about the subject.
Best wishes for your adventure with the book.
– Rex Shelby”
At the time I wrote that email to Cara Ellison, I had already spent more than six years fighting federal prosecutors from the Department of Justice (DOJ). And, although I expressed optimism in the letter that the battle would soon be over, it did, in fact, consume me for an additional three years. I worked at Enron Broadband Services (EBS) for just over 18 months, but I spent nine years of my life focused single-mindedly on defending myself against criminal charges related to my brief time there. And after all that effort, I still have the same question now that I had back when I wrote that letter to Cara: ”What was the government thinking?”
It seems to me that Cara Ellison asked that same basic question as she began her study of EBS. Instead of presuming that EBS was an organization full of greedy and malevolent criminals, she appears to have approached her investigation with an open mind, actually using the evidence to guide her conclusions about the enterprise and the people who worked there, including the ones who were eventually indicted by the DOJ. The result of Cara’s study is contained in her excellent blog and in the book you are now reading.
Thank goodness there is finally a book about Enron Broadband Services! In the countless pages of books, articles, and other writings about Enron, there has been little coverage of EBS. And what has been written so badly misses the mark that it is difficult to even recognize the actual EBS enterprise. Only in Cara Ellison’s Enron Online: The Enron Blog could one find information about EBS that provides a sense of the real enterprise and what actually transpired in the legal events that engulfed so many EBS employees.
Therefore, how fitting that it is Cara Ellison who gives us the first book dedicated to EBS and the EBS legal saga. And how appropriate that Cara makes use of her blog posts to motivate and structure her book. By basing her book on her blog posts, Cara brings the same style and insight to the topic which is the hallmark of her popular blog. In this fascinating book, Blogging Enron: The Enron Broadband Story, Cara achieves what I expressed as just a hope in my letter to Cara back in 2008 – she “gets the facts right” and she “demonstrates some real passion about the subject.”
So get ready to be informed and entertained. And if you think you already understand what Enron and the Enron legal events were all about, prepare to be surprised!
Thank you, Cara Ellison!
New Year’s Day, 2014