Jeb (short for John Ellis Bush) Bush is trying to rebrand himself as a new man, a person disconnected from the Bush dynasty, but his logo is old-school, left over from his 1994 unsuccessful run for Florida governor. The lack of last name didn’t go unnoticed. David Frum, former speechwriter for George W. Bush, wrote, “The most important thing about the Jeb logo isn’t the exclamation point that is there. It’s the last name that isn’t there.” At least, the logo is producing a lot of fun about Bush’s declaration of his candidacy.
In declaring his candidacy—finally!—Jeb Bush said, “I’ll break away from the GOP pack.” He won’t escape the Bush name, but his personal family scandals show that he’s already separated from the other GOP candidates:
1994: Bush’s eldest son, George P., broke into his ex-girlfriend’s house, fled the father, and then returned to drive his SUV into their front lawn. The ex said that young George had “been a problem” since the breakup.
1999: Bush’s wife, Columba, was fined for declaring only $500 worth of goods to U.S. Customs on her return from Paris where her purchases were almost $20,000. (Bush was Florida governor between 1999 and 2007.)
2000: Jeb, Jr. was caught having sex with a 17-year-old girl in a mall parking lot. The police reported the incident of sexual misconduct, but he wasn’t arrested.
2002: Daughter Noelle, 24, was arrested for prescription fraud while trying to buy a tranquilizer, Xanax. In rehab, she was caught with a “white rock like substance” thought to be crack cocaine. Between 1995 and 2002, she had racked up seven speeding tickets, five other traffic violations, and involvement in three wrecks.
2005: Son Jeb Jr., 21, was arrested in Texas for public intoxication and resisting arrest.
Throughout Jeb’s political career, he has touted his business acumen. Recently in Iowa, he boasted that he’s actually “signed the front side of a paycheck,” defining himself as superior to all those drudge blue collar and government workers such as teachers and firefighters who only endorse checks that someone else signs. Much of his ability to sign the front of the check comes from the name that doesn’t appear on his logo, and much of his dealings can be described as “shady.”
1986: Camilo Padreda, past counterintelligence officer for Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in the 1950s, hired Bush to find tenants for office buildings financed with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-backed loans. Bush ignored the fact that four years earlier Padreda had been indicted for embezzling $500,000 from a Texas savings and loan. After the charges were dropped, Padreda pleaded guilty to defrauding HUD of millions of dollars.
1986: Jeb Bush convinced Health Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler to intervene in a federal regulation stating that no HMO could get more than 50 percent of its revenue from Medicare. Thanks to his intervention, Miguel Recarey, long-time business associate of Tampa organized-crime figure Santos Trafficante, managed to get away with embezzlement of government funds. Recarey’s International Medical Centers, the largest health maintenance organization for the elderly in the U.S., had been supported from $1 billion in payments from the Medicare program before it went bankrupt in 1988 and left $222 million in unpaid bills. Recarey fled the U.S. facing three separate indictments for labor racketeering, illegal wiretapping, and Medicare fraud Medicare fraud and is an international fugitive.
1988: Recarey’s company gave Jeb Bush’s real estate company $75,000 to help it find a site for a new corporate headquarters.
1988: Bush used White House ties to form a company with GOP donor David Eller to market water pumps manufactured by Moving Water Industries, another Eller business, to foreign countries. In 1992, at the behest of MWI, the Export-Import Bank approved $74 million in US-backed loans to Nigeria to buy water pumps from Eller’s company. The Justice Department later alleged in a 2002 civil suit that about $28 million of those loans were used to bribe a Nigerian official.
1990: Bush defaulted on a loan from Broward Federal Savings and Loan. He and his partner Armondo Codina were required to pay only $500,000 of the $4.5 million loan while retaining ownership of the building that had been the collateral. In 1991, Bush and Codina sold the building for $8 million.The FDIC sued Broward, using Bush’s loan as an example of the bank’s negligent lending practices that cost the taxpayers $285 million.
2007: Jeb Bush joined InnoVida as a $15,000-a month-consultant, leading to board membership and stock options. The company’s CEO, Claudio Osorio, was sent to prison in 2013 for over 12 years for a $40-million investment fraud and an additional $10 million from a federal government program between 2006 and 2011 to build 500 homes in Haiti after its devastating earthquake in January 2010–a project that Osorio touted to promote his company, but which never broke ground. Bush did pay back over half the $470,000 paid him for three years as a consultant in a secret agreement in 2011. He claimed that he had vetted the company, but years of wrongdoing on the part of Osorio and other top officials were obvious. [obvious] Nine months before Bush joined the company, it was evicted from its factory space for not paying rent.
2007: Five months after he left the governor’s mansion in 2007, Bush joined Lehman Brothers as a “consultant.” Bush’s job was to go to Mexico and convince (trick) a telecom mogul into making a large investment. It failed. Within a year, Lehman went broke, leaving Florida with about $1 billion worth of bad mortgage investments.
2013: Bush pushed states to approve fracking while failing to tell them about his part-ownership in FracStar Logistics, a company that provides sand for fracking. At the time, it was raising $40 million to acquire fracking wells. The company’s name has been changed to Proforce Energy Services; Bush’s son, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, helped found FracStar, and Jeb is co-owner of the managing group, De Soto Partners, with his son Jeb, Jr.
2014: Bush blasted President Obama for normalizing relations with Cuba while he made over one million dollars a year from Barclays, the bank that had to settle criminal charges for violating sanctions that included Cuba. In 2010, Barclays agreed to forfeit $298 million to the U.S. for illegal transactions on behalf of customers from Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and other sanctioned countries. Bush started at Barclays in 2008, after these actions. After Bush’s decision to run for president, he resigned his Barclays position.
Now Bush is hoping that his name will get him Florida, yet University of Florida political scientist Daniel A. Smith found that “nearly three-quarters of Florida’s 12.9 million currently registered voters have never even seen Bush’s name on a ballot.” Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio, another GOP presidential candidate, is far better known in the state. Then there’s Bush’s need to overcome his being the son of a failed president and the brother of a colossal failure of a president.
Jeb says that he’s running on his record as Florida governor. He increased mandatory minimum sentences for juvenile offenders and kept harsh sentences for non-violent drug offenders despite his regular use of marijuana as a teen. In 2002, he opposed a ballot measure that would have let drug offenders enter treatment programs instead of prison. He eliminated over ten percent of jobs in state government by privatizing public services such as foster care, adoption services, legal representation for death row prisoners, human resources, and state parks. At the same time, he cut billions of dollars in tax cuts benefiting the wealthiest in the state. While he was in office, the state debt went from $15 billion to over $23 billion. He initiated the murderous Stand Your Ground law, shamed women, accelerated the death penalty, privatized schools and prisons–the list goes on and on. (Check out Part II of this series.)
Bush is pro theocracy, war, death penalty, gun, privatization, prisons, racism, deception, fraud, pollution, killing, and control of elections and people’s lives. He’s also anti-woman, anti-education, anti-environmental protection, and anti-affirmative action.
Last year, Jeb’s mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, said that her son would be “by far the best qualified man, but…we’ve had enough Bushes.” She was half right. Others may agree. In March, Bush was at 21 percent in the Washington Post/ABC poll, eight points above his closest rival, Scott Walker. By May he lost over half the percentage in the same poll, tied at 10 percent with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and behind Walker and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), tied at 11 percent. Another poll puts him below Ben Carson.
[If you need a bit of humor after all this info about Jeb, check out satirist Andy Lebowitz’s latest column: “Scientists Believe They Have Isolated Gene for Failure.”]