|NMU||TEXAS||Freedom of Information||Apr 18, 2002|
Police release suicide note left by former Enron executive
- More than 50 news organizations sought access to John Clifford Baxter’s suicide note under the Texas Public Information Act, claiming that the intense public interest surrounding the company’s bankruptcy required it to be disclosed.
The police department in the small Houston suburb of Sugar Land last week released copies of a suicide note of a former Enron executive after more than 50 news organizations sought access to it under the Texas Public Information Act.
The department on April 11 released the note from John Clifford Baxter, a former vice chairman for the now-bankrupt Enron, who shot himself on Jan. 25.
The release came after the Texas attorney general’s office issued an opinion that the document was a public record. The office turned away concerns that the note might embarrass or invade the privacy of Baxter’s family, noting “the substantial public interest in the cause of Enron’s failures and its far-reaching consequences.”
The opinion explained further that Baxter, who had been named a defendant in several investor lawsuits, had become a public figure in the wake of Enron’s collapse.
The note was addressed to Baxter’s wife, Carol, and read: “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.”
Besides the suicide note, the attorney general’s opinion authorized the release of information from Baxter’s Texas driver’s license, police photos taken of Baxter and his car after his suicide, an autopsy order and basic information from the Sugar Land Police Department’s incident report about Baxter’s suicide.
© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press