Sherron Watkins was Vice President of Corporate Development at Enron, a Houston-based energy company that grew to employ 20,000 staff and claimed revenues of over $100 billion in 2000 before its collapse in 2001. After recognizing accounting irregularities within the company, Watkins alerted then-CEO Ken Lay in a 2001 memo, warning that Enron “might implode in a wave of accounting scandals.” Watkins’ internal disclosure eventually led to a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, and Enron later collapsed, its stock plummeting from a peak of $90.75 in mid-2000 to $0.26 by early December, 2001. The “Enron Scandal” is thought to have resulted in a wave of new corporate and financial reforms including the SOX of 2002, which Government Accountability Project itself helped to draft and enact.
After blowing the whistle, Watkins then testified against Enron before House and Senate subcommittees and was selected as one of three TIME Magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002, along with two other whistleblowers. Watkins published a book in 2004 about her role in uncovering the Enron Scandal and actively participated in Government Accountability Project’s American Whistleblower Tour.