But to issue the subpoena, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), the Senate Commerce Committee chairman, said, ”We have no choice.”
“I regret that we have gotten to this point.”
The House Financial Services Committee, chaired by Rep. Michael G. Oxley (R-Ohio), also issued a subpoena to compel Lay to testify on Feb. 14.
Lay had been scheduled to testify before both the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Financial Services Committee on Monday, but Earl J. Silbert, Lay’s lawyer, announced late Sunday his client would not appear before either group.
Silbert accused congressmen of making “inflammatory statements” on the Sunday television talk shows that, he said, would have given the hearings a “prosecutorial” overtone.
The Senate committee canceled its Enron hearing on Monday, but the House committee heard testimony from William Powers, a member of Enron’s board of directors, and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt.
Enron’s board named Powers to head an internal investigation of the company’s partnerships and business practices in October.
Powers released his findings in a report last weekend, detailing the off-book partnerships that allegedly masked the Enron’s huge debt and losses.
Before the House panel Monday, Powers said Enron’s sudden bankruptcy stemmed from a “systematic and pervasive attempt by Enron’s management to misrepresent the company’s financial condition.”
Powers said his investigation concluded that the flaws in Enron’s policies flowed from its executive offices.
“What we found was appalling,” Powers told the panel yesterday. “And there was a fundamental default of leadership and management. Leadership and management begin at the top, with the CEO, Ken Lay.”
So far, Lay has not publicly spoken about Enron’s collapse or Powers’ investigation.
On Monday, Lay resigned from Enron’s board, severing his last managerial tie with the company. He quit his post as Enron’s CEO in late January.