Old friend who helped Bush into Oval Office

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The Independent US

In words that both came later to regret, George Bush once referred to Kenneth Lay using the nickname "Kenny Boy" - a sobriquet that underlined the close relationship the men enjoyed.

Lay had been a strong supporter of Mr Bush when he was running for the governorship of Texas. When Mr Bush was elected, Lay benefited from a law that deregulated the Texas electricity markets. When Mr Bush switched his sights to the White House, Lay became a so-called Pioneer, a supporter who collected more than $100,000 for the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign. He also let Mr Bush and Mr Cheney use his personal Enron jet to woo voters.

According to Kurt Eichenwald's book, Conspiracy of Fools, Lay was almost selected to be Secretary of the Treasury, but the position was given to Paul O'Neill. Lay was also a part of Mr Bush's presidential transition team.

In 2002, letters between Mr Bush and Lay revealed an ongoing friendship. In one letter Lay thanked Mr Bush for a Christmas ornament depicting the Texas Capitol, saying: "It was a thoughtful gift and one our family will enjoy hanging on the tree." In another note Mr Bush teases Lay about turning 55.