Crony Capitalism? Michele Obama Fundraising With Bush Era, Ex-Enron Executive

Posted on October 30, 2011


Texas (Julie Mason-Politico) – An upcoming Houston fundraiser featuring first lady Michelle Obama at the home of a former Enron executive who is part of a movement to convert public pensions to 401(k)-style plans is angering some local Democrats.

John Arnold, a Houston billionaire and former Enron trader, is hosting the Michelle Obama event with his wife, Laura Arnold, at their Houston home on Nov. 1.

Arnold is part of an organization pushing to convert public pensions — including teachers, police, firefighters and others — to 401(k)-style plans.   The effort launched in California but has plans to go nationwide, according to a story by Bloomberg. The story notes that Arnold is a libertarian and his wife a Democrat.

A receptionist at Arnold’s Houston investment office told POLITICO that Arnold was not available to comment.

Dana Guefen, co-chair and event contact for the Nov. 1 Houston fundraiser featuring the first lady, declined to comment to POLITICO but said someone would get back in touch.

Gayle Fallon, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, called the 401(k) proposal “very frightening for teachers.” She noted the nose dive many retirement plans took in the stock market in 2008, saying, “What if I was retired and that happened?”

“My people supported Obama big-time in 2008,” Fallon said. “This is not helping.”

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