Police release suicide note left by ex-Enron executive; doesn't specifically mention collapse

Thursday, April 11th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SUGAR LAND, Texas (AP) _ An anguished note left behind by a former Enron Corp. executive who killed himself in January makes no specific mention of the energy giant's collapse but says ``where there was once great pride now it's gone.''

The police department in this Houston suburb released the seven-sentence note from John Clifford Baxter immediately after the Texas attorney general's office issued an opinion that the document was a public record.

Baxter, who resigned as vice chairman in May 2001, months before Enron collapsed, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Jan. 25. He was 43. His family had opposed release of his handwritten note, citing privacy issues.

The note, addressed to his wife, Carol, said: ``I am so sorry for this. I feel I just can't go on. I have always tried to do the right thing but where there was once great pride now it's gone. I love you and the children so much. I just can't be any good to you or myself. The pain is overwhelming. Please try to forgive me.'' It was signed, ``Cliff.''

The note was handwritten in all capital letters on a blank sheet of paper. An attorney for the family, Pike Powers, has said it was left in Carol Baxter's car in the garage of the family home. The home is a half-mile from the spot where his body was found.

The attorney general's office had until Friday to make a decision. It turned aside arguments that the note might embarrass or invade the privacy of Baxter's family, ``given the substantial public interest in the causes of Enron's failure and its far-reaching consequences.''

The opinion also determined that Baxter became a public figure. He had been a defendant in investor lawsuits because of Enron stock sales that netted him about $35 million before the energy giant's stock price began falling last year.

Enron's collapse was the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Baxter was named in an explosive warning that another Enron executive sent to company Chairman and Chief Executive Kenneth Lay in August about questionable financial practices.

``Cliff Baxter complained mightily to (then-CEO Jeff) Skilling and all who would listen about the inappropriateness of our transactions with LJM,'' Sherron Watkins wrote. LJM is one of the partnerships apparently used to keep a half-billion dollars in losses off Enron's books.