State legislators are considering whether to force an Enron lawyer and Gov. John G. Rowland’s former co-chief of staff to testify at an April 4 hearing that will examine a failed $220 million deal between Enron and a state trash authority.
Nine witnesses were ordered to confirm by Wednesday whether they would attend the hearing of the legislature’s Finance and Energy committees. Two witnesses did not respond and another declined to attend.
State Rep. Anne McDonald, D-Stamford, and Sen. Martin Looney, D-New Haven, the two co-chairmen of the Finance Committee, said they would consider on Thursday whether to use the General Assembly’s subpoena power.
The hearing will focus on the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority’s $220 million deal with Enron, a pact that turned out to be one of the biggest losses of state money in history.
The two witnesses who did not respond by Wednesday were Ron Grosser, a lawyer for the trash authority’s bond counsel firm, Hawkins Delafield & Wood, and Peter Ellef, who quit this week as Rowland’s co-chief of staff and had served as the trash authority’s chairman, The Hartford Courant reported.
Ellef intends to testify without being subpoenaed, said Dean Pagani, Rowland’s new chief of staff and longtime spokesman.
Grosser did not return a call to his New York office. His firm is a defendant in a new class-action lawsuit filed by the town of West Hartford on behalf of the 70 towns whose trash-disposal rates stand to rise because of the authority’s loss of the money to Enron.
A third witness — Daniel Allegretti, Enron’s New England counsel when the deal was negotiated in 2000 — declined to attend the hearing. He is also one of three Enron executives who met with Rowland in December 2000, days before the deal was signed.
Allegretti wrote a letter to the finance committee March 13 saying that “a conflict with other affairs prevents me from being in Connecticut that day.”
Looney said lawmakers may subpoena all nine witnesses to make sure they are at the hearing.
Besides Ellef, Grosser and Allegretti, the other six witnesses are embattled trash authority President Robert Wright; state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a critic of the deal; state Treasurer Denise Nappier; Donald Downes, the state’s top utilities regulator; William Cibes, head of Rowland’s advisory panel on the trash authority’s Enron problem; and Northeast Utilities chief Michael G. Morris.
McDonald said Wright, Nappier, Blumenthal and Downes all have said they would attend. Cibes may send another member of his panel, and Morris is expected to send another Northeast Utilities representative, she said.
Meanwhile, state House Speaker Moira K. Lyons, D-Stamford, joined Wednesday with other prominent Democrats who had called previously for Wright to step down from his $153,000-a-year job.