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Newly Released Documents Indicate that as Texas Governor, Bush Helped Promote Enron?s Business Interests

Feb. 15, 2002

Newly Released Documents Indicate that as Texas Governor, Bush Helped Promote Enron?s Business Interests

AUSTIN, Texas ? Documents obtained by Public Citizen on Friday suggest that as governor of Texas, President Bush helped promote Enron Corp.?s foreign and domestic business agenda on behalf of company CEO Kenneth Lay.

The documents were among 350 pages of Bush records released by Bush?s father?s presidential library, where Bush sent them, after a request by Public Citizen under the state?s open records law.

Though Bush has tried to distance himself from Ken Lay following the implosion of Enron and the loss of billions of dollars by investors and employees, the documents include handwritten letters exchanged between Lay and Bush reflecting a personal relationship. They also show Lay frequently sought help from Bush. Lay and Enron have contributed $736,800 to Bush?s political career, including his 1994 and 1998 campaigns for governor, his 2000 presidential campaign, and his recount and inaugural funds.

“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 Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. “They certainly raise questions about how far Bush went to help Enron and what other favors he might have done.”

– In 1999, Lay sent Bush a letter asking him to meet with the Romanian prime minister when he visited Houston. Lay noted that Enron had just finalized a gas marketing joint venture with Petrom and had a Bucharest office. Lay noted that “we are committed to participation in the Romania energy and water markets.”

– In 1997, Lay sent Bush a letter noting that Bush would be meeting with Uzbekistan?s ambassador and saying that Enron was negotiating a $2 billion joint venture to develop Uzbekistan’s natural gas. Lay noted that “this project can bring significant economic opportunities to Texas” and said that “I am delighted that the two of you are meeting.”

– In 1997, Lay sent Bush a letter thanking him for calling then-Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, noting that “I am certain that will have a positive impact on the way he and others in Pennsylvania view our proposal to provide cheaper electricity to consumers.”

– In 1997, Lay sent Bush a letter thanking him for his efforts to find a middle ground on the debate regarding electricity industry restructuring in Texas. “Thanks to your leadership . . . we made significant progress towards the goal of making the state?s electricity industry fully competitive. . . . Enron looks forward to continuing to work with you.”

– In 1998, Lay, as chair of the governor?s business council, sent a letter to Bush thanking him for his “outstanding and committed leadership” in getting eight bills passed that made changes to the legal system to help business.

– In 1998, Lay wrote Bush to bring his attention to a federal tax bill relating to wind production tax credits that Lay was supporting for Enron?s wind energy business and asked Bush to send a letter to U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer in support of the measure.

Last week, Public Citizen obtained documents showing that Lay made a number of recommendations to Bush, as governor of Texas, for appointments to public office.