Next Monday, the former Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Enron, Kenneth Lay, will be testifying before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee about his role in the collapse of what was one of the largest companies in America. The Committee Senators will have the opportunity to ask Ken Lay questions as they gather information about the actions and inactions of Enron insiders, their auditors, lawyers, and regulators.
Certainly, this is going to be a great show -- Enron is one of those entities that Washington loves: a villain. But at the end of the day, these hearings can and should help point our government in the direction of what actions, if any, need to be taken in order to protect shareholders in American companies from just such a collapse.
Place yourself in the shoes of one of the senators. If you had the floor, and the nation was watching, and you could ask Ken Lay one question about Enron, his involvement, or his opinions, what would it be? What would you ask the man who presided over a house of cards that now stands as the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history?
Keep this in mind: In December I was invited to testify at the first Senate Commerce Committee hearing regarding the Enron collapse. I attribute this honor not to the fact that I have any particular insight, but that people in the highest reaches of our government value what the entire Motley Fool community has to say, and are interested in the things that individual investors in American businesses are thinking.
The Motley Fool community's finest hour thus far was the passage of Regulation Fair Disclosure in 1999 that forced the democratization of corporate information by making it illegal for companies to share information with select shareholders. Arthur Levitt, then Chairman of the SEC, said that two-thirds of the comments the SEC received came from Fools. "Without them, Reg FD would not have happened."
So take your chance to tell Ken Lay and the U.S. Senate what's on your mind! (Use some decorum, please. A senator would not take the occasion to question the parentage of Mr. Lay.) Tell us what you would ask Ken Lay about his part in the collapse of Enron. We know that Washington is looking to us for comments, and who knows, you might have a question that the senators had not considered.
When you are ready to compose your query, click here. We will print some of the best ones next week.
Motley Fool Enron Coverage: