Enron's Kenneth Lay Is a Bush Family Friend

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December 2, 2001

Enron's Kenneth Lay Is a Bush Family Friend

Re "Collapse of Merger Pushes Enron to Brink of Ruin," Nov. 29: Enron Chairman Kenneth L. Lay not only stuck it to California electricity consumers, he also was one of the main players in the current Bush-Cheney energy policy developed behind closed doors that will favor oil and energy producers and bleed consumers all over the U.S. for years to come.

Lay has been a good friend of former President George Bush's for many years, and this friendship has made Lay much more money than the $145 million that he cheated his own employees in order to get. Lay was one of the biggest contributors to George W. Bush in his races for governor of Texas and president. He helped finance George W. Bush's inauguration bash.

Richard Steen Manhattan Beach


Enron's impending bankruptcy reeks of a classic mob-style bust-out. First, the setup: energy deregulation in California. Next, the sting: price-gouging and profiteering during California's energy crisis. Then, the bust-out: Enron executives sell massive personal stock holdings at $80-plus per share. And last, the fallout: bankruptcy, with common shareholders of Enron and the citizens of California wondering what happened.

Hey, Kenneth Lay, can you say "RICO"?

Rhys Thomas

Van Nuys


Thank you for "Enron's Many Victims" (editorial, Nov. 28). It is an outrage that while thousands of Enron's hard-working employees found their hands tied by management as their retirement accounts were decimated, the company's corporate chieftains--whose "leadership" destroyed the once-mighty entity--will be able to lead the rest of their lives in indescribable luxury. Even more outrageous is the sad fact that this scenario has almost become the rule and not the exception. How long before employees and shareholders alike take action against this near-criminal philosophy so ingrained in today's corporate culture?

Dan Etheridge

Los Angeles




Name: Kenneth Lay
Occupation: Chair & CEO, Enron Corp.
Industry: Energy & Natural Resources
Home: Houston, Texas
1999 Salary & Perks: $42.4 Million

The $550,025 that the Enron Corp. gave Bush over the years makes it his No. 1 career patron, according to the Center for Public Integrity. “Virtually every … aspect of Enron’s operations is overseen by the federal government,” a ’96 Dallas Morning News story noted. Not surprisingly, this global natural gas giant and its top executive are big political contributors who keep revolving doors whirling. Lay hired President Bush’s cabinet members James Baker and Robert Mosbacher as they left office. After President Bush’s ’93 Gulf War victory tour of Kuwait, Baker and other members of his entourage stayed on to hustle Enron contracts. The Clinton administration also threatened to cut Mozambique’s aid in ’95 if the world’s poorest country awarded a pipeline contract to a different company. Enron got Bush to contact Texas’ congressional delegation in ’97 to promote a corporate welfare program in which U.S. taxpayers finance political risk insurance for the foreign operations of corporations such as Enron. Enron plants around Houston—which surpassed LA for the title to the nation’s worst air—are “grandfathered” air polluters that exploit a loophole in state law to avoid installing modern pollution-control technologies. Earlier this year the Houston Astros inaugurated their new Enron Field, which was financed with $180 million in public tax dollars and $100 million from Enron. In return, Enron landed tax breaks and a $200 million contract to power the stadium. Topping Enron’s political wish list in Texas was deregulation of the state’s electrical markets. Bush signed this dream into law in ’99.



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