While Jeb Bush frequently is touted as both a two-term governor and a successful businessman, his often dubious record as an entrepreneur and investor has been widely documented over the past three decades.
The 62-year-old scion of a powerful political family and now an announced candidate for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination was involved in a myriad business ventures dating back to the mid-1980s, The Washington Post noted on Monday in the latest media examination of Bush’s entrepreneurial exploits as he tried to amass his fortune.
Bush brokered numerous real estate deals in Miami, helped to arrange bank loans in Venezuela, marketed shoes in Panama, sought out Mexican investors for a building-materials company, advised transnational financial services firms — you name it. He also made a boatload of money by sitting on a handful of corporate boards. And ever since he left the Florida governor’s office in 2007, Bush — like Democrat Hillary Clinton — has raked in substantial income by giving speeches while also consulting and managing investments for others.
“Jeb Bush had a successful career in commercial real estate and business before serving as Florida’s governor,” Kristy Campbell, a spokeswoman for Bush, told the Post. “He has always operated with the highest level of integrity throughout his business career.”
And yet the Post’s lengthy review of Bush’s business career — culled from records, lawsuits, interviews and newspapers accounts dating back more than 30 years — reveals a picture of a young man on the make who “often benefited from his family connections and repeatedly put himself in situations that raised questions about his judgement and exposed him to reputational risks.”
Five of Bush’s former business associates have been convicted of crimes; one remains an international fugitive on fraud charges. Bush has disavowed any knowledge of the wrongdoing and conceded that some of the businessmen he met in Florida took advantage of his relative youth and naiveté.
One thing that comes through loud and clear in the Post report is that Jeb Bush had no compunction about trading on his family name in trying to make a buck.
Major case in point: In early 1989, seven weeks after his father, George H.W. Bush, took office as president, Jeb Bush took a trip to Nigeria with the executive of a Florida company called Moving Water Industries. Bush had just been hired to help market the firm’s water pumps.
With no less than a special escort from the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, Bush and his new boss met with the nation’s political and religious leaders as part of the company’s effort to land a deal that would be worth $80 million.
“My father is the president of the United States, duly elected by people that have an interest in improving ties everywhere,” the young Bush told the group. “The fact that you have done this today is something I will report back to him very quickly when I get back to the United States.”
Just days after Bush returned to the U.S., his father sent the president of Nigeria a handwritten note thanking him for hosting his son. Not surprisingly, Moving Water Industries eventually landed the deals it was seeking, according to the Post.