A Free-Market Energy Blog

"Rob Bradley at Enron" (for the record)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- October 20, 2011

“Sorry to bother you with this…. Rob is obviously not a fan of renewables or the global warming issue.  Unfortunately, he works for a company that is.”

– “Rob Bradley’s Writings.” Tom White [chairman & CEO of Enron Renewables Energy Corp. ] to Ken Lay [chairman & CEO of Enron Corp.], June 8, 1998.

The Confluence, a blog advertising itself as “Democrats Putting Principle Over Party,” recently criticized a new initiative of the Institute for Energy Research, Stop the Energy Freeze. After reciting some peak-oil arguments against IER’s case for expanding access and production of domestic oil and gas resources for new jobs and greater BTUs, the post Sunday: Spreading the mess to YouTube goes after yours truly.

I also bothered to look up who was behind this Stop the Energy Freeze campaign.  It’s the Institute for Energy Research and it seems to be particularly concerned with oil that is currently off limits in the Gulf of Mexico, for some strange reason.  Maybe that’s because they’re based in Houston?  Or maybe it’s because it’s because it’s been touted by Rush Limbaugh who hasn’t met a resource (natural or human) that he hasn’t considered exploitable?

Ahhh, this little tidbit is interesting.  The co-founder and CEO of The Institute for Energy Research is some dude named Robert L. Bradley.  And HE used to work for Enron and Kenneth Lay.  You know, the Smartest Guys in the Room?  The ones whose traders used to yuck it up about how they were going to f$^& over some Granny in California by manipulating the energy market?  The company that made all of its employees invest in Enron stock in their 401Ks and then locked them out of their accounts when the price plummeted so that they lost EVERYTHING? 

Yeah, that Enron.  Bradley was the PR guy.  He’s also an adjunct “scholar” of the Cato Institute.  How charming.  Is that where he learned to deceive unsuspecting youtube viewers?  Is the liberty to make the end really justify the means ensconced in the Constitution somewhere?  Are we free to pull the wool over citizen’s eyes with bullshit?  I guess it’s the responsibility of every rugged individualist to be on his guard.

Well, I founded (not co-founded) IER, and headquarters is in Washington, D.C. (not Houston where I continue to work). And most importantly, I was a quite arguably public-policy whistleblower against “green” energy inside the company.

And after the collapse (I was part of the mass layoff of December 2001), I began working on a trilogy about the rise and fall of the company to get the Left (such as the above authors) to see Enron for what it really was–a rent-seeking, political capitalism company, not a free-market company.

And to set the record straight, I created a website around the book series and Enron, www.politicalcapitalism.org. At this site, I have a special section, Rob Bradley at Enron, with the following content:

I worked at Enron for sixteen years, almost as long as Ken Lay himself. I joined the company in September 1985 and was part of the mass layoff of December 3, 2001.

In my last seven years at Enron, my title was corporate director, public policy analysis. In this capacity, I worked on natural gas, electricity, and environmental issues, as well as prepared speeches for Enron’s CEO Ken Lay. (I only occasionally worked on speeches for Jeff Skilling–he generally prepared his own presentations.)

In this period, I grew very disenchanted with the corporation’s positions on renewable energy and climate change. Fortunately, I had my own 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the Institute for Energy Research (IER), to allow me an independent voice to speak and write against climate alarmism and corporate welfare. My outside views caused controversy within Enron, and I was not shy about expressing my opposition within Enron either.

The memos below are some examples of my principled opposition to Enron’s rent-seeking activities relating to “sustainable” energy. If Enron had been more free-market-oriented, I believe that the company would be a going concern today.

 Internal Enron Renewable Energy Controversies

Selected Quotes: 

Ken Karas to Hap Boyd (7-15-1997): “Rob’t Bradley is still at it!  This guy works for Enron?”

Ken Karas to Tom White (3-7-1998): “Does Bradley still work for Enron?  If so, I believe he should be terminated.  This article [“Are the Merits of Windpower Overblown?”] is pure yellow journalism…. ”

Tom White to Ken Lay (3-9-1998): “I am sorry to bother you with a matter that I thought was closed.  I am not sure whether this article was written before or after you issued orders [to Bradley to stop], but in any case, it does damage to our wind business and seems to violate our business conduct policy.”

Ken Karas to Tom White (6-3-1998): “Our buddy Bradley strikes again! … Bradley has some really clear views on the world that don’t comport with what we are trying to accomplish and seems unable to muzzle himself.”

Tom White to Ken Lay (6-8-1998): “Sorry to bother you with this…. Rob is obviously not a fan of renewables or the global warming issue.  Unfortunately, he works for a company that is.”

Ken Karas to Ken Lay (7-17-1998): “I find it amazing that even in a memo to you he cannot help but take wither ignorant or misleading shots at us.  I have seen nothing from him on wind that is objective, unbiased, or balanced.”


  • Hap T. Boyd was director of government affairs for Enron Wind Corp.
  • Ken C. Karas was chairman & CEO of Enron Wind Corp.
  • Thomas E. White was chairman & CEO of Enron Renewables Energy Corp.
  • Kenneth L. Lay was chairman & CEO of Enron Corp.

I rest my case.

Can ‘green’ energy proponents own up to the fact that Enron was their darling company before it imploded (Joe Romm included)? Can they see Enron and ‘green’ energy for what they really are?

Mid-course correction needed!


Robert L. Bradley Jr. is founder and CEO of the Institute for Energy Research. His latest book, Edison to Enron: Energy Markets and Political Strategies, was just published by John Wiley & Sons and Scrivener Publishing.


  1. john  

    Mr. Bradley was a thorn in the side of Enron. After my counterpart in the wind business had a very unpleasant experience with them, I had received a call from Robert Gates (Enron Wind) who was interesting in what I was doing. I knew better….

    Months before Enron imploded, a friend of mine at a press clipping service alerted me that Enron has just started a wide open account regarding “Enron in connection with very serious trouble”. So they knew well in advance of the problems that they denied having any knowledge about.

    Bill Clinton was the chief enabler of Enron and Sec of Treasury Larry Summers became very involved. They were picking winners and insuring that any competition would be thwarted much like this administration is doing. This was exacerbated during the Bush administration and in my case involved a State Governor who just happened to push the competition off a cliff (Larry gave a helping hand in this) and ‘per chance’ is in the wind business now. Just to keep this brief Bob is one of the good guys. Here is a more on Clinton and Enron.


    Bob, if there is anything disputable here please let me know.


  2. Jon Boone  

    Don’t hold your breath for any mid-course correction, Rob. Neither the yahoos at Confluence (the affluent through ecopork?) nor the technological dimwittery of Joe Romm–parvenus selling salvation via carbon expiation, are evidently able to sort wheat from chaff. Despite the evidence otherwise, you’ll continue to be tarred with the same brush used on Ken Lay.

    But thanks for the history. In hindsight, perhaps you wish you’d left earlier….


  3. Eddie Devere  

    Thanks for posting the Enron memos.
    It’s the same tone used in emails for companies that I’ve worked for. Everybody seems to be like making a mountain out of a mole hill. And everybody is extremely sensitive to even the smallest problems.
    Only time can sort out those people who are right from those you are wrong in these intra-office cat fights.
    In this argument, you appear to be on top. But I’m guessing you’re batting less than 100%, just like the rest of us. It’s hard to be right all of the time.

    The memo you posted regarding the DOE EIA is really telling. I find it completely absurd that the DOE EIA compares electricity generation technologies on their LCOE (but fails to include the cost to make wind or solar a non-intermittent source of electricity.) Do you know why the DOE EIA is not fairly comparing baseload technologies with intermittent technologies? (This has been going on for years, and can’t be blamed on any one political party or President.)


  4. rbradley  


    I was ‘drinking the Koolaid’ and certainly was not batting 100%. I thought that Enron’s problems were just the flip side of the first-mover mentality where misses are the price of the hits–and infallible Ken Lay was the conductor of a company that would always have more hits than misses.

    I’m getting to work on my third book to understand all this–and then I can know enough to be brief! (Book 2 just published.)


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