Bush & Lay Show Close Relationship
Bush's friendship with Enron chief dates back to late 1980s
Bush-Lay letters suggest close relationship
February 17, 2002 Posted: 7:46 AM EST (1246 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Newly released documents suggest that President Bush's relationship with embattled former Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay was once chummy and that Lay often asked him to act on Enron's behalf when Bush was governor of Texas.
Some two dozen letters written by Lay to then-Gov. Bush were among the 350 pages of Bush documents released Friday by Texas archivists in response to requests by news organizations and the nonprofit government watchdog group Public Citizen.
The correspondence includes holiday greetings, birthday notes and get-well wishes. In one 1997 note, Bush teases Lay about his 55th birthday, adding "Laura and I value our friendship with you."
In another one, Lay thanks Bush for a Christmas ornament depicting the Texas Capitol, saying: "It was a thoughtful gift and one our family will enjoy hanging on the tree every year."
Lay's primary concern in the correspondence was electricity deregulation. Although Bush -- who once nicknamed Lay "Kenny Boy" -- signed a state law deregulating the electricity market in 1999, the documents do not indicate that his actions were in response to Lay's interests.
"I very much appreciate your call to [then-Pennsylvania Gov.] Tom Ridge a few days ago," Lay wrote in 1997 regarding an Enron proposal to provide electricity to Philadelphia. "I am certain that will have a positive impact on the way [Ridge] and others in Pennsylvania view our proposal."
Ridge ultimately supported an alternate proposal, and Enron's bid was unsuccessful.
In 1998, Lay asked Bush to write a letter to U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer about a federal tax bill "expressing your support for the measure."
"These documents suggest that Bush was acting as promoter in chief for Enron and its business interests at a time when he was getting ready to raise money for his run for president," said Joan Claybrook, Public Citizen president.
"They certainly raise questions about how far Bush went to help Enron and what other favors he might have done."
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Friday that the documents were "old news."
"The president himself has acknowledged that Ken Lay was a supporter of his in the past," he told The Associated Press.
The documents were collected during Bush's tenure as Texas governor from 1995 through 2000, and are stored at his father's presidential library at Texas A&M University. http://edition.cnn.com/2002/US/02/17/bush.lay/
The Bush-Lay Letters - July 8, 2004
The Bush-Lay Letters. Correspondence suggests chummy President-Enron boss relationship. JULY 8--With the FBI slapping handcuffs on Kenneth Lay this morning, ...
Bush's friendship with Enron chief dates back to late 1980s
Published Sat, Jan 12, 2002
By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush gave embattled Enron executive Kenneth Lay the nickname "Kenny Boy" back when the two were up-and-comers in Texas.
That doesn't mean they are best buddies; Bush dispenses nicknames freely and not just on intimates. Yet as their careers soared, their interests became more intertwined, whether in business, politics or baseball.
Bush's largest financial benefactor, Lay found him to be a friend of the energy industry when Bush was Texas governor. And Bush made a special trip to Houston during his presidential campaign to attend the Astros' first game at Enron Field, as Lay threw out the first pitch.
They've enjoyed "quality time," Lay has said.
How close their friendship grew has come under scrutiny since Enron, the Houston-based energy giant, filed the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history last month.
It has since been disclosed that Lay contacted officials in the Bush administration, which has at least 15 high-ranking members who owned stock in the company last year. Several Cabinet members acknowledged contacts from Enron but said they did not tell Bush or take any action.
The president calls Lay a "supporter," in recognition of the money poured into his campaigns over the years by Lay, his company and its employees.
But he denies speaking with Lay about the company's financial problems and says his administration will aggressively investigate the failure of the company. Enron's fall cost thousands of jobs and vaporized the retirement savings of many employees.
"My sense is that Bush cares about him," said Bill Miller, a political consultant in Austin, Texas, who witnessed Lay's ascent in the corporate world and Bush's rise to governor, then president.
"It was a friendship-friendship, not just a business friendship."
White House and Enron officials insist the two were never all that close. Any idea that Lay is a "close intimate" of Bush is ludicrous, Bush adviser Karl Rove said.
"It would be a stretch to call them personal friends," said Enron spokesman Mark Palmer, adding he recalled hearing Lay say that Bush had called him "Kenny Boy" once or twice.
Parsing his words carefully, Bush said last week that it was when he became governor after the 1994 election that "I first got to know Ken." But their relationship apparently goes farther back.
Lay, as chairman of the University of Houston board of regents in the late 1980s, tried to bring the senior Bush's presidential library to his school. George W. Bush was involved in setting up the library, which eventually went to College Station, Texas, instead.
Lay says he spent "a little more quality time with George W." during that time.
Criminal, civil and congressional investigations are looming into whether Enron defrauded investors, including 401(k) plan investors, by concealing information about its financial problems.
Bush, sitting on high approval ratings, is hoping his connections to Lay won't become a political liability.
Bush has received more than $550,000 from Enron, its employees and their relatives during his political career - the most from any source. Altogether, more than 250 members of Congress from both parties have received Enron contributions.
Lay's relationship with the Bush family dates back to when the president's father was the only Bush in national politics.
Lay was co-chairman of former President Bush's 1990 economic summit for industrialized nations, which was held in Houston.
Lay and his wife, Linda, dined on hickory grilled veal medallions and Texas peaches and cream with summit attendees who included British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and French President Francois Mitterrand.
Lay also was co-chairman of the host committee for the Republican National Convention when it was held in Houston in 1992. George W. Bush played an active role in his father's unsuccessful campaign for a second term that year.
The businessman had Democratic connections as well, serving Democratic Gov. Ann Richards as leader of her business council. He gave money to her campaign and Bush's in 1994, and when Bush defeated her that year, the new governor kept Lay on the business council.
As Lay was donating money to Bush's 1994 and 1998 governor's campaigns, he also was lobbying legislators to deregulate the electric industry, an area into which Enron was expanding.
Bush signed a deregulation law in 1999 clearing Enron's path into new markets.
"Bush has always delivered on Kenneth Lay's political pitches," said Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, a campaign-finance advocacy group.
Even if Bush's dad hadn't been in the White House, the two men would have been on similar trajectories.
"They're both from the energy business; they both like baseball," said W.J. "Jack" Bowen, a retired gas executive who hired Lay twice, at a Florida energy company and then at Transco Energy Co. in Houston.
They have similar personal traits, said Miller, who has watched Texas politics for years. Both are bright and down-to-earth. Each tends to delegate authority.
"Neither one of them pretends to be an intellectual," Miller said. "Lay is reserved, but not shy. Bush has got more ham bone in him."
Published on Wednesday, April 7, 2004 by TomPaine.com
Bush And Lay
It's Time the Press Revived the Investigation Into the History Between Enron and the President
by Steve Cobble
Four years ago this Wednesday, George W. Bush was taking time out from the campaign trail against Al Gore to travel to Houston to take in a game.
Where was he? Enron Field.
His host was Ken Lay. This was a big day for "Kenny Boy," as George W. once affectionately tagged him. One year earlier, Lay's Enron Corporation, one of the seemingly great economic stories of the 1990s, had agreed to pay more than $100 million over 30 years (!) for the naming rights to the new Houston baseball stadium.
On one level, Enron Field was a strange place for George W. Bush to be in April of 2000. Having already vanquished his main GOP primary rival, John McCain, an observer schooled in politics might have expected that Bush would be directly engaging Vice-President Gore in hand-to-hand political combat in a swing state. After all, both Florida and Ohio have baseball teams.
But Texas was never a battleground state, and Houston was never a place where W's presence was required for political reasons. So if George W. just wanted to take in a ballgame to relax, why not a visit to his old team, the Texas Rangers, the Sammy Sosa-trading/eminent domain-wielding/sales tax-increasing corporate juggernaut that allowed him to turn a mere $600,000 (mostly in loans) into $14 million faster than you can say "Hillary Clinton cattle futures".
Ah, but there is a reason. You see, according to Opensecrets.org, Enron bossman Ken Lay was well on his way to building the Enron family into the soon-to-be-President-Select's number one lifetime donor—and for a mere $736,800, a pittance compared to that $100M for the naming rights to Enron Field.
Of course, as Kevin Phillips has pointed out, the actual investment the Enron crowd made in the Bush family is much higher—maybe not as much as a stadium name, but quite a bit more substantial than $736,800.
In the Nation magazine, Phillips argued that, "most of the Washington press corps has been content to leave alone the much larger story—the apparent seventeen-year connection between the Bush dynasty and Enron. Even without such information, it seems clear, counting campaign contributions, consultancies, joint investments, deals, presidential library and inaugural contributions, speech fees and the like, that the Bush family and entourage collected some $8 million to $10 million from Enron over the years, which is more than changed hands in Harding's Teapot Dome scandal. Depending on some still-unclear relationships, it could be as high as $25 million."
What Phillips pointed out almost two years ago remains uninvestigated today.
Why does it matter? Well, not only did Lay and his corporate minions outdo all the other Pioneers to take home the George W. Number One lifetime donor crown, Ken Lay and Enron contributed to the "successes" of the early Bush administration in many ways before the corporation imploded. Enron's corporate tentacles ran deep, and have never been fully exhumed. My own personal favorite is this little tidbit: not only did Ken Lay, Linda Lay and Jeffrey Skilling each donate $100,000 to George W's inaugural fund, but, according to Arianna Huffington, Enron provided the corporate jet that flew his parents in for the show. Now that's service.
Ken Lay involved Enron in White House personnel decisions, especially in the selection of new energy regulatory heads; and in policy-making, including the infamous Dick Cheney energy task force meetings, which are still secret today. Several key administration officials had strong ties to Enron, owned large amounts of Enron stock or had taken Enron campaign contributions in earlier races. And Enron lobbied hard to keep the Bush administration on the sidelines during the California energy crisis.
Despite all these links, when Enron began to go down the tubes, George W. acted like Bill Clinton in the early days of the Monica Lewinsky crisis. As several wags pointed out, W's extremely lame—and misleading—comments, suggesting that he had inherited Ken Lay's support from Ann Richards, and implying that 1994 was ". . . when I first got to know Ken and worked with Ken, and he supported my candidacy" was not only just flat out wrong, it was the moral and economic equivalent of "I did not have business relations with that man!"
(And when Bill Clinton lied, no one's pensions were fried.)
These were not exactly the comments of an honest man. Not the reaction of a man with nothing to hide. And not even close to the truth, given what we know about George W. Bush and "Kenny Boy" Lay.
Unfortunately, just as we were beginning to find out more about their true relationship, the Iraqi WMDs coincidentally leaped to the top of the public agenda, right before the 2002 election, and just in time to drive all the Enron/Worldcom/Tyco corporate corruption off the front pages. The national media at that point gave up trying to look into what George W. Bush and "Kenny Boy" Lay really had in common.
But now we know that the WMDs were hyped. Now the world understands that the war with Iraq was "a war of choice" rather than necessity—and the timing was deliberately chosen to influence the 2002 elections. Now it should be clear to everyone that this administration is not the truth-telling, straight-talking group that they projected in their 2000 campaign.
So, maybe it's time for another look at Enron. Maybe this fourth anniversary of George W's visit to Enron Field can be the occasion for some investigative reporting about the history of this company and this family.
After all, Martha Stewart's been convicted, but Kenny Boy is still at large. After all, Enron's corruption was not just another low-grade Arkansas money-losing land deal. After all, W's lame response about his relationship to Ken Lay is a strong indication that Bush himself felt the need to mis-lead.
Kevin Phillips once again sets the standard for investigation: "The most interesting Bush family involvement is with Enron. Over the twentieth-century emergence of modern government ethics, no presidential family has had a parallel relationship. . . However, the only way a chronicler can seriously weigh the Enron-Bush tie is by a yardstick the American press has never really employed: the unseemliness of a sixteen- or seventeen-year interaction by the members of an American political dynasty in promoting and being rewarded by a single U.S. corporation based in its home state."
Here's an idea—maybe Ken Lay could do a public interview, tell the truth about his relationship with the Bush family, let us all know all the schemes and tricks that Enron came up with, and then, having relieved his tortured conscience, throw himself on the mercy of the public. Sometimes the truth actually works—it did for John Dean.
Or here's another one—maybe Paul O'Neill could come clean about what Ken Lay and Enron really asked for when they called the Bush administration, right before they collapsed. After the nasty treatment the Bushies gave Secretary O'Neill because of his last book, I can imagine that an O'Neill Enron essay now might be very interesting.
Steve Cobble is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy.
Smoking Gun in Enrongate - Let the impeachment begin?
By : Mike Hersh - 01/24/02
Former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Curtis Hebert, Jr. is going
public with explosive allegations. Hebert says Enron CEO Ken Lay--the largest
contributor to George Walker Bush--made improper demands.
When Lay threatened that his close friend Bush, would fire Hebert unless he obeyed,
Hebert refused. Lay ordered Bush to fire Hebert, and Bush complied in August 2001.
Hebert has been on record about all of this for months, but he recently made a new,
even more explosive charge. Hebert says Bush also let Lay INTERVIEW him and
other candidates for FERC Chairman in the first place!
In a nutshell: Enron gave Bush $millions to sponsor his rise from a losing Candidate
for the US House to the "leader of the free world." In return, Bush gave Enron "hire
and fire" authority over the FERC, and performed other favors in return for money.
This directly and personally ties Bush to the Enrongate scandal in all its illegality.
Bush betrayed his oath to the American people when he let Ken Lay hand pick
regulatory watchdogs we entrusted to prevent the massive meltdown that cost
Americans $billions. This makes letting the fox guard the hen house look like
tender loving fiduciary care.
This is nothing new for Bush, who fired Texas Funeral Service Commission (TFSC)
director Eliza May in retaliation for her investigations of Service Corporation
International and its CEO Robert Waltrip. Waltrip--like Enron's Lay--is a longtime
Bush lied under oath regarding this political quid-pro-quo, then he and SCI settled a
lawsuit to keep May quiet. Texas taxpayers picked up $155,000 of the hush money
tab, while SCI paid May the other $55,000, according to a Dallas Morning News
story published 11/09/2001. Texans know this scandal as "Funeralgate."
The Rule of Law requires that Bush testify under oath about Funeralgate, his and
his Brother John Ellis Bush's Votergate activities during the 2000 election in Florida,
and Enrongate. We already know George Walker Bush has an established pattern
of helping his friends and backers evade regulation and possibly even criminal
We must demand action now, because Enron and its accountants at Anderson have
been destroying evidence by the box-load. We must know what Bush did, and why
he did it.
Enrongate is not just a Bush scandal: this is a Republican scandal. Other top GOP
officials like VP Dick Cheney, White House advisor Karl Rove, House Leader Dick
Armey and Sen. Phil Gramm also helped Enron plunder and evade regulation.
They helped Enron rip off consumers, investors and employees.
Ignore Republican and media efforts to spin this as a business scandal or a bipartisan
scandal. This is not about the generous, but legal contributions Enron made: 73% to
Republicans, 27% to Democrats. This is a GOP political scandal because Republicans
helped Enron pay no taxes in four out of five years, while hiding profits in offshore
accounts. Despite the hype, no Democrat did anything of the sort.
Even with all these special favors, golden boy Ken Lay ran Enron into the ground.
Adding insult to injury, if not perfidy to perjury, the Republican "stimulus porkage"
aims to give Enron and Lay even MORE of your tax money.
This Republican scandal exposes GOP corruption at the highest levels, but more
profoundly, it reveals the bankruptcy of the GOP "government is the problem"
ideology. It blows the lid off Bush's Enronomics, and his plan to Enronitize Social
Security, energy and other policies.
I am currently working on another article concerning these fundamental failures in
Republican philosophy. For now, back to the immediate scandal. Already, Armey
and Gramm are quitting politics to escape Enrongate, but ending their careers to
enjoy tax-paid pensions may not be enough to satisfy justice and the Rule of Law.
These top Republicans--all outspoken critics of President Clinton's conduct in
office--should welcome full-scale investigations into their own apparent influence
pedaling. As should House Whip Tom DeLay, VP Cheney, George Walker
Bush, and other GOP leaders. As should Ken Lay, Sen. Gramm's wife
Wendy--a former regulator turned Enron board member.
If they broke the law, they should pay the penalty. That's been the Republican
mantra for nearly a decade. Let them prove they meant it by volunteering to testify
before the US Senate--under oath, on national television. If they're innocent, what
do they have to fear? They should welcome the opportunity to come clean or set t
he record straight.
Despite their nonstop pontificating about others' lacking accountability, I'm not
confident these Republicans will step up and do the right thing. We must take it
upon ourselves to demand justice and uphold the Rule of Law. Call the media and
your elected officials NOW to make sure they understand the real issues in
Enrongate, Funeralgate, and Votergate.
Let the investigations, perhaps even impeachment begin!
Mike Hersh is a contributing writer for Liberal Slant
George Bush and Dick Cheney deliberately misled Congress and the American public about Iraq in order to justify an illegal war. Over 2400 American troops and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died as a result. This and other "high crimes and misdemeanors" are grounds for impeachment. http://www.impeachbush.tv/
HOW TO IMPEACH A PRESIDENT. The authors present legal grounds for impeachment of Bush
DO-IT-YOURSELF IMPEACHMENT FILE: pdf/DIY.pdf
Smoking Gun in Enrongate
The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron
Early life and career
Lay was born into a poor family in Tyrone, Missouri. His father was a Baptist preacher and some-time tractor salesman. He has been described by his undergraduate classmates at the University of Missouri as industrious and high-minded, and served as president of the Zeta Phi chapter of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at the University of Missouri and got his doctorate in economics at University of Houston in 1970.
Lay worked in the early ‘70s as a federal energy regulator. By the Reagan administration, when energy was deregulated, Lay was already an energy company executive and he took advantage of the new climate by merging Houston Natural Gas Co. with Nebraska-based Inter-North.
Lay was one of America's best-paid CEOs, earning (for example) a $42.4 million compensation package in 1999. Lay sold large amounts of his Enron stock in September and October of 2001 as its price fell, while encouraging employees to buy more stock, telling them the company would rebound. Lay liquidated more than $300 million in Enron stock from 1989 to 2001, mostly in stock options.
Lay maintained business and political ties to Republican goverment officials, hiring (for example) James Baker and Robert Mosbacher as they left the Cabinet of President George H. W. Bush (both men lobbied for Enron contracts in the wake of the First Gulf War). Lay was a supporter of Bush for Governor of Texas; in 1999, Bush signed a law deregulating Texas electric markets. A Bush 'Pioneer,' Lay became one of the largest individual contributors to the Bush-Cheney 2000 presidential campaign: his donation history shows $651,760 to Republicans, $61,960 to Democrats, and $62,150 to special interests. Lay served on the Bush-Cheney Transition Advisory Committee, and, according to Kurt Eichenwald's book Conspiracy of Fools, was nearly selected to be Secretary of the Treasury following Bush's victory in the 2000 U.S. presidential election. Ultimately Paul O'Neill was chosen for the position instead.
Houston dinner tables are buzzing with talk. Some Houston Jews say Mr. Fastow is being singled out for blame even more than former Enron chairman Kenneth Lay and CEO Jeffrey Skilling. Others see Mr. Fastow's prominence at Enron as a sign of just how far Jews have come in an oil town where memories of anti-Jewish discrimination are still fresh.Yet even as some Jews voice concern that the media is focusing unnecessarily on Mr. Fastow's Judaism, it appears that Mr. Fastow himself has been playing the religion card by directing calls to his rabbi, who has vouched for his moral character.
U.S.News Nation & World 2/18/02
'Conflicts come back to bite'
How an Enron director helped fund a deal that started the death spiral BY CHRISTOPHER H. SCHMITT
REBECCA MARK-JUSBASCHE ----The $82 Million Woman
A Harvard Jewess had shot into prominence in 1991 when she persuaded Mr Kenneth L. Lay, till recently Enron's Chairman and CEO, to set up Enron Development Corporation to pursue overseas projects under her leadership.
On the widely published lists of high-ranking executives who made millions cashing out stock options, she's the first female name to show up; according to a court filing, she received $82.5 million from the sale of stock.
Friday January 18, 2002
Houston's Jewish community faces Enron fallout
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
NEW YORK -- The Enron Corp. and Linda Lay, the wife of its chairman and chief executive, have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Houston's Holocaust museum, accounting for approximately 10 percent of the institution's $3 million budget.
Lays wife could be Jewish
ALTHOUGH the maiden name of Linda Lay is not known (she is the wife of Ken Lay, CEO of Enron -- the most costly scandal since WTC, and Actualité juive insists that neither she nor her husband is Jewish, she was the yearly biggest donor of the Houston Holocaust Museum.
Enron and the Lays were patrons of Houston's Jewish causes
Houston's Jewish community faces Enron fallout Faith - based court ruling not likely to rile Congress No peace until Arafat ousted MUCH MORE:>>
If it has been documented that Sherron Watkins, 1) hand-delivered a detailed memo to Ken Lay that spelled out in expicit detail all of the accounting irregularities and fraud and 2) had a personal meeting to discuss this memo, how can Ken Lay say that he did not know what was going on at his company???? Especially, when he had the best accounting firm and law firm serving as his advisors....
See the story here http://www.apfn.org/enron/Sherron_watkins.htm
I think the prosecution simply needs to prove that Lay knew what was going on (as evidenced by the above) and that he lied to the investing public...It really should not be that difficult.
Posted by: Larry at March 13, 2006 06:48 PM
Bush Helped Promote Enron's Business Interests
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