Enron Mail

Subject:US Chamber
Cc:rosalee.fleming@enron.com, richard.shapiro@enron.com,linda.robertson@enron.com
Bcc:rosalee.fleming@enron.com, richard.shapiro@enron.com,linda.robertson@enron.com
Date:Sun, 19 Nov 2000 12:11:00 -0800 (PST)

You had asked for my input on a response to a letter you received from Tom
Donahue regarding increasing Enron's contribution to the US Chamber to
$100,000. I have been giving the Chamber a bit of a hard time lately and
wanted you to know why.

I have been in touch with both Tom and his staff over the last year. Donahue
has done a very good job raising money and getting his membership rolls up,
both in terms of membership and dollar contribution per member. My
reservation about the Chamber is that they won't take a stand on something
which is in the best interests of the vast majority of their membership if it
will alienate a vocal few. Electric restructuring was a key example of
this. There was no doubt where they should have been on the issue, but
instead of embracing retail open access legislation at the federal level they
decided to have a "process". Naturally, all the utilities volunteered to
participate in the process and outnumbered the nonutility members when it
came time to vote. The vote supported wholesale, but not retail, reform
(with heavy emphasis on ensuring stranded cost recovery). Afterwards, the
federal debate shifted solely to wholesale legislation (though this is not
exclusively the Chamber's fault).

Unfortunately, Tom's forceful and competitive approach when it comes to
raising his membership rolls leaves him unwilling to do the right thing if a
few members will be upset. For Enron it's a bit like paying $100,000 for a
veto right. The only things the organization pushes for are the things
everyone agrees on in the business community -- eg China PNTR and lower
corporate taxes -- things they will push for whether we pay dues or not (and
things we will add our separate voice to in any event).

As I have explained to the Chamber, Enron makes its money challenging
conventional wisdom, changing the way markets work, and dislocating
incumbents. Anything important that we stand for is likely to alienate some
members of the business community and the Chamber is unlikely to stand with
us. They represent the status quo in the business community. Tom is an
extremely promising leader; he needs to create a new kind of voice for the
business community. A voice which stands for moving business to the next
level, not just protecting its current position.

Having said all that, the Chamber (particularly its international chapters)
has been useful to us in the past. In previous years, Donahue himself has
intervened on our behalf with Latin American leaders. As a consequence, I
have asked them for a proposal which would allow us to remain Chamber members
at a lower dues (and policy participation) level, but with continuing access
to their international activities. I suggested something in the $25,000
range. That's why they are approaching you (they want us to double our
current dues to $100,000).

Currently, I am inclined to just withdraw from Chamber membership, but I plan
to defer to Linda Robertson. I am interested in your insights, or, if you
prefer, you can simply refer them to Linda or me.