The Enron whistle-blower who wasn't

Lynn Brewer, author of Confessions of an Enron Executive: A Whistleblower's Story, has become a globally known authority on what went wrong at Enron. Since 2002, she has given close to 200 speeches around the world. At $13,000 per appearance, she has earned hundreds of thousands of dollars for her company, The Integrity Institute. In her presentations, Brewer recounts the wrongs she witnessed at Enron — a company that grossly overstated its earnings and collapsed into bankruptcy six years ago — and exhorts her listeners to act ethically in all of their dealings.

In recognition of her bravery in speaking out as a whistle-blower, the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, is featuring Brewer in an exhibition devoted to freedom of speech.

A salute from the people who give out the Nobel Peace Prize is a heady achievement, but what makes Brewer's story truly remarkable is that she appears to have fabricated significant portions of her tale, starting with whether she was ever an Enron "executive" and extending to her claims of being a "whistle-blower."

Instead, a USA TODAY investigation, involving interviews with two dozen former colleagues, reveals Brewer to be an astute self-promoter who parlayed an undistinguished 32-month stint as an Enron employee into a lucrative career in the corporate ethics industry. She appears to have succeeded by modeling herself after another woman regarded as an Enron whistle-blower, Sherron Watkins.

Within the world of business ethics, Brewer is considered a star. She is a founding member of the Open Compliance and Ethics Group. She delivered the keynote address at a Sarbanes-Oxley conference hosted by the New York Stock Exchange in 2003 (there are video clips of it on her website, www.lynnbrewer.info). She has spoken in Great Britain, India, Venezuela, Italy, Canada, Malaysia and New Zealand, and given keynote addresses at dozens of other gatherings in the USA. She's also a regular speaker at universities, where she lectures students on the importance of ethics in business.

Brewer has even co-authored an article in Business Strategy Review with noted management guru Oren Harari showing how the leadership skills of Colin Powell could have been applied at Enron.

But to those who worked with her at Enron, when she was known as EddieLynn Morgan (she changed her name after getting married in 2000), her transformation from back-office researcher to international corporate governance heroine is astonishing.

"I don't think people will even believe this," says Ceci Twachtman, a former colleague, speaking of Brewer's transformation. "It reminds me of that movie with Leo DiCaprio with Pan Am," she adds, referring to Catch Me If You Can, a story about a high school dropout who passes himself off as an airline pilot.

"EddieLynn is a good nurse who is trying to claim she was a brain surgeon," says Tony Mends, a former vice president at Enron who was her boss for much of her tenure at the company.

The story of EddieLynn Morgan's career as an Enron "executive" and "whistle-blower" begins in March 1998, when the Houston energy giant hired her as a senior specialist. She had worked at Peterson Consulting and as a paralegal at Ralston Purina in St. Louis.

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