(UPI) - Former Enron chief executive Kenneth
Lay's contacts with President George W. Bush
date back to 1994 before he became governor
of Texas, The Dallas Morning News reported
wrote Bush shortly after he defeated Democrat
Gov. Ann Richards in 1994, urging him to name
Pat Wood to the Texas Public Utility Commission,
according to a letter obtained by the newspaper.
Last month, Bush told reporters he "got to
know" Lay after being elected governor and
described him as a Richards supporter.
who Lay called qualified to carry out the
"new thinking" needed on the commission, was
appointed by Bush three weeks after taking
office. Lay was a top campaign contributor
to Bush. After Bush was elected president,
Lay urged him to name Wood to the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission. The president
appointed him to that post in August.
House spokeswoman Jeanie Mamo said the appointees
suggested by Lay were qualified for the posts
and received support from other people.
were very qualified individuals who had a
lot of support," she said. "They were chosen
based on their qualifications and their experience."
the 1994 letter to Bush, Lay opened with the
greeting, "Dear George," and described Wood
as "best qualified to provide" what he termed
"new thinking" on the utility commission.
Wood is an advocate of market-oriented regulation
supported by Enron, the News said.
governor, Bush pushed for deregulation and
he won praise from Lay for his efforts.
also lobbied Bush about Texas laws limiting
lawsuits against businesses, calling the state's
tort system "the laughing stock of the country."
He said it could force some large business
to leave Texas. As governor, Bush successfully
won legislation that limited lawsuits against
1994, Lay has recommended other appointments
to Bush and his successor, Republican Gov.
Rick Perry, but the recommendations have not
always been followed. Both Bush and Perry
have received campaign contributions from
Enron filed for Chapter 11 protection Dec.
2 in the nation's largest bankruptcy. About
4,500 workers lost their jobs and their savings,
and several investigations are being conducted
by state and federal agencies.
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