AUSTIN, Texas – While he was governor of Texas, George W. Bush appointed at least two officials recommended to him by then-Enron Corp. chairman Kenneth Lay, according to correspondence made public Wednesday.
Lay's letters urging the appointments were among documents released by Republican Gov. Rick Perry after a request by a Dallas television station under the state's open records law.
White House spokeswoman Jeanie Mamo said Wednesday the appointees backed by Lay were qualified and also had other support.
"There were many people who contributed ideas and made suggestions for people to serve in state government," Mamo said. "These were very qualified individuals who had a lot of support. They were chosen based on their qualifications and their experience."
In December 1994 after Bush was elected governor, Lay urged in a letter that Pat Wood, a backer of utility deregulation, be appointed to the state Public Utility Commission. Bush appointed Wood a year later.
As president, Bush in August appointed Wood chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Lay had urged Wood's appointment to the FERC.
Also, in a January 1995 letter to Bush's appointments director, Clay Johnson, Lay asked that Frank Maresh be promoted to chairman of the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy. Maresh, already a member of the board, got the top job.
John Duncan, whom Lay asked Bush to name to the University of Texas System Board of Regents, was not appointed.
Other correspondence from Lay may be included among Bush's gubernatorial papers housed at former President Bush's presidential library at Texas A&M University. Those papers were not available for review Wednesday.
Lay has since resigned as chairman of Houston-based Enron, the former energy trading giant that collapsed in bankruptcy last year.
Enron was a political contributor to both Bush and Perry. For his two gubernatorial campaigns, Bush received more than $300,000 from the company. He received more than $100,000 for his presidential campaign.
Lay also wrote to Perry about possible state appointees, but "Governor Perry has not appointed anybody that Ken Lay recommended," said his spokeswoman, Kathy Walt.