Monday, April 7, 2003

Portman: Christian ethics can be
part of business

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

U.S. Rep. Rob Portman says it's impossible to legislate ethics, but insists it is possible to be Christianlike in business and still be successful.

In a speech Sunday morning in Hyde Park about ethics in business, the Republican from Terrace Park quoted Scripture and referred several times to Enron, the Houston-based energy company that filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001 after its stock collapsed amid allegations that its officers hid debt to boost overall profits.

He also mentioned Adelphia Communications, a cable company that filed for bankruptcy after its officials allegedly used company money for purchases including a professional hockey team and a $700,000 South Carolina golf club membership.

Those were examples, Portman said, of a "'90s era of greed" when corporations would "do just about anything to get those stock prices up."

His talk to about 100 people in the basement of his church, Hyde Park Community United Methodist, was the first in a series about ethics and values being organized by the church's educational staff. Outside, five protesters held signs about peace and cuts in veterans' benefits.

The congressman cited some changes he said should help stop future scandals. Among those: increased criminal penalties; the fact that business students at schools such as Northwestern University are now being required to do significant research in ethics; and requiring companies to disclose more.

"It's still not perfect," Portman said. "If you get those (financial) statements at home, you know what I'm talking about."

He also said the congregation should pray for U.S. troops in Iraq, a quick resolution to the war there and "an Iraq which treats its people better."


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