AUSTIN, Tx. – “George, Linda and I are incredibly proud of you and Laura,” Enron CEO Ken Lay scrawled at the bottom of a letter he wrote to then-Gov. George W. Bush of Texas, Nov. 11, 1998. Bush had just won reelection with the generous financial backing of Enron, which had poured more than $700,000 into Bush’s campaign coffers.

“We hope that you will again actively support efforts to pass a bill restructuring the electric industry in Texas,” Lay continued. “Please have your team let me know what Enron can do to be helpful in not only passing electricity restructuring legislation but also in pursuing the rest of your legislative agenda.”

Just over a year later, Dec. 21, 1999, Lay sent a letter to Bush and his wife thanking them for the autographed “Tejano Santa” print Bush had sent them as a Christmas gift. Lay added, “George and Laura, Linda and I are so proud of both of you and look forward to seeing both of you in the White House.”

It was one of scores of letters Lay and Bush exchanged during Bush’s tenure as Texas governor. To describe this as as a “good ole boy” or “crony” friendship does not do justice to the extent of the mutual dependence that comes through in these letters, as if Bush and Enron were extensions of each other. No wonder the Houston-based oil and gas corporations were so determined to put Bush in the White House that they poured $41 million into the Bush-Cheney campaign and then orchestrated the theft of the election in Florida in November and December 2000.

The Texas State Archives made the correspondence public last month in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Bush attempted to block their release by hiding them in his father’s presidential library. Texans for Public Justice (TPJ), a watchdog group with offices a few blocks from the state Capitol provided a set of the letters to the World.

TPJ Executive Director Craig McDonald said the letters “show a very close personal relationship between Lay and George W. Bush. Enron was in the policy loop, sitting around the policy table. The visibility of the corruption is astounding, the degree to which the rich and the powerful were controlling policy.”

Deregulation of the Texas electricity market went into effect Jan. 1 and it is still too early to tell how consumers will fare, McDonald added. But Enron, together with Dynegy, Duke Power and other energy traders, pushed through deregulation in California and used their control to drive up electricity rates by 400 percent costing ratepayers an estimated $8.9 billion in overcharges. Bush and Vice President Cheney did nothing to stop this colossal swindle and are still trying to exploit the crisis they caused to elect a Republican governor and legislature in California’s November election.

In one “Dear George” letter, dated Oct. 17, 1997, Lay thanks Bush for “your call to Governor Tom Ridge a few days ago. 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 Philadelphia.”

In fact, Enron’s foray ignited a bruising struggle with the Philadelphia Electric Company (PECO). Ratepayers in the City of Brotherly Love are now paying higher, not lower rates just as ratepayers of Portland General Electric (PGE) are paying rates 50 percent higher than in 1997 when Enron bought PGE.

Lay, chair of the Governor’s Business Council (GBC) sent Bush a letter on Enron letterhead, Feb. 28, 1995 with 17 recommendations which he said the “Legal Reform Committee feel are essential to providing a level playing field and restoring common sense and fairness to our judicial system.”

Bush wrote back a month later, “As you know, I have declared tort reform an emergency matter for the Legislature.” Bush’s idea of tort reform was to impose severe limits on public interest lawsuits seeking damage awards for cancer victims and others harmed by oil and gas companies that spew millions of tons of toxic waste into the Texas environment. Bush is still seeking to ramrod tort reform through the U.S. Congress.

In a Apr. 3, 1997 “Dear George” letter, Lay reminded Bush he would be meeting with Uzbekistan’s Ambassador Sadyq Safaev.

“Enron has established an office in Tashkent and we are negotiating a $2 billion joint venture with Neftegas of Uzbekistan and Gazprom of Russian to develop Uzbekistan’s natural gas and transport it to markets in Europe, Kazakhstan and Turkey,” Lay wrote. “I know you and Ambassador Safaev will have a productive meeting which will result in friendship between Texas and Uzbekistan.”

The Enron CEO wrote Mar. 31, 1999, enclosing an article by New York Times writer Tom Friedman who had penned a piece in which he said that the Pentagon, armed to the teeth, is serving as an enforcer of the profit interests of Enron and other global corporations.

Lay told Bush, “I believe Freidman’s [sic] article concerning globalization is an excellent overview of most of the major issues concerning international financial markets and trade.”

Bush replied, “Thanks for the Freidman [sic] article. I too found it very interesting. All is well, George.”

McDonald scoffed at the Bush-Cheney claim of “executive privilege” to cover up their ties to Enron. “They want people to see this as one rogue corporation. In fact people are beginning to understand that Enron is one of many,” McDonald said. “The problem is the system. This is good government if you are Enron. But the policies promoted by the monied class benefit them, not us.”