July 9, 2002
Public Citizen Calls on Bush Administration to Name Special Counsel to Probe Halliburton Accounting During Cheney Tenure
WASHINGTON, D.C. ? Public Citizen, in a letter to the president, called on the Bush administration to name a special counsel to investigate possible accounting irregularities or securities fraud at Halliburton Co., where Vice President Dick Cheney was chief executive officer until resigning to become Bush?s running mate.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in May opened an investigation of Halliburton?s accounting practices involving cost overruns on construction projects, methods that the company adopted during Cheney?s tenure. Halliburton also faces investor lawsuits alleging that the company violated securities law by issuing false statements. Cheney ran the Dallas-based oil-services company from 1995 until August 2000.
“President Bush is talking a good game about getting tough on corporate criminals to avoid getting tainted during this corporate crime wave. But to have any credibility he needs to make sure his own house is in order,” said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook, who sent the letter late Monday. “Like Enron, WorldCom, Xerox and others, Halliburton?s books have been called into question. The public deserves an independent investigation to determine whether the vice president knew about or participated in any fraudulent accounting schemes.”
Under current law, Attorney General John Ashcroft can appoint a special counsel who would operate independently of the Justice Department. Designating a special counsel would, theoretically, insulate investigators and prosecutors from possible political pressure coming from within the administration. The Independent Counsel Act, which was used to appoint an independent counsel to investigate former President Bill Clinton?s involvement in the Whitewater real estate transactions, expired in 1999.
“We need a thorough airing of the issues involving Mr. Cheney and Halliburton,” Claybrook said. “If the administration wants to restore faith in our capital markets, then it should leave no stone unturned in its search for corporate wrongdoers. No one should be above the law. If Mr. Cheney did nothing wrong, he should welcome such an investigation to clear his name.”
?Click here to view a copy of the letter on the Web.