July 04, 2015

Jeb Bush donor pens Miami Herald op-ed backing thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations


Coral Gables health-care executive Mike Fernandez backs renewed U.S.-Cuba relations, he said in an op-ed published in the Miami Herald -- a significant endorsement from a prominent political backer of 2016 Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush.

Fernandez wrote:

Cuban Americans everywhere, but especially the diaspora in South Florida, have been awakening to the reality that Cuba's isolation was and is not a sustainable strategy.

The case has been made for decades that Cuba’s failure is a self-inflicted wound by its dictatorial leadership.

Unfortunately, those of us born on the island — and in partnership with U.S. policies — provided the strategic scapegoat that perpetuated the cover that allowed the Cuban government to blame the embargo and Washington for all its failures.


Let the embassies open. Let Google and Yahoo, the press and Yoani, and the memory of Paya and many others be the order of the day.

Let’s support the Cuban people’s hunger for a future, a future that has been denied to them for decades now. Let's us be a force of change, not a people of unremitting anger.

My friends, my family, my fellow Cuban Americans, let’s set our people free.

Let us free our minds of hate and memories and thoughts or revenge. 

That's very different from what Bush said this week when President Obama and Cuban leader Raúl Castro announced the re-opening of embassies in Washington and Havana.

"I oppose the decision to further embrace the Castro regime by opening an embassy in Havana," Bush said in a statement. "The real test of the Obama Administration's rapprochement with the Castro regime in Cuba is not whether President Obama's legacy is burnished with dubious diplomatic achievements and photo-ops, but whether improved relations between Havana and Washington advance the cause of human rights and freedom for the Cuban people.

"The ongoing detention of dissidents and continued human rights abuses suggest the Administration’s policy is failing this test."  

Marco Rubio, Chris Christie hosted in New Hampshire by Mitt Romney


Mitt Romney found out Marco Rubio and Chris Christie would be in New Hampshire for July Fourth parades. So he invited them to stay at his vacation home in Wolfeboro, the Associated Press reported.

Rubio aide Jim Merrill tweeted a photo Friday night of Rubio and his wife, Jeanette, with Romney. Rubio, Christie and Romney were also spotted in a local ice-cream shop.

Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, has yet to pick a candidate in the crowded 2016 race. He is scheduled to meet with Jeb Bush next week in Kennebunkport, according to the Washington Post.

Bush is also in New Hampshire for the holiday weekend.

July 02, 2015

Miami-Dade GOP legislators make a push for presidential candidates to campaign in favor of immigration reform

While presidential candidates who oppose immigration reform may gain support from a slice of GOP voters in early voting states, that stance will cost the GOP in battleground states in the general election, according to a new poll.

A group of Miami-Dade Republican officials hosted a teleconference with reporters Thursday to discuss the results of a poll of likely voters about their stances on immigration and make the case that presidential candidates should campaign in favor of immigration reform.

The poll was conducted in the early primary and caucus states with 400 GOP voters a piece in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. A similar poll was conducted of 800 voters in 10 battleground states including Florida which represented 23 percent of the respondents. The polls took place in April and May.

The poll was done by Burning Glass Consulting and The Partnership for a New American Economy, a group that brings together mayors and business leaders to make an economic case for changing immigration laws.

Rudy Fernandez, a former special assistant to President George W. Bush in the White House, speaking on behalf of the Partnership, said that the poll shows while an anti-immigration candidate may “gain a little bit and win favor with extremists” in early states, “you lost a lot in the general election.”

Continue reading "Miami-Dade GOP legislators make a push for presidential candidates to campaign in favor of immigration reform" »

July 01, 2015

Jeb Bush below average in giving to charities

Jeb Bush says he’s proud of what he and his wife, Columba, have contributed to charity. But his tax records show they’ve given less than the national average and less than others with similar wealth.

The former Florida governor’s boast that he and his wife had donated $739,000 to charity since he left the governor’s office in 2007 is only one view of his record.

In 2013, the most recent tax year for which his records were available, the Bushes’ charitable contributions of $110,616 amounted to 1.5 percent of an adjusted gross income of $7.3 million. In 2012, their $104,169 in contributions amounted to 1.8 percent of their adjusted gross income.

Bush said he will report contributing $307,944 to charity in his 2014 tax return, but he has filed for a six-month filing extension and his adjusted gross income for that year was not made available.

That’s below the 3 percent national average for charitable giving and the 3.38 percent average in Florida, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

And it’s well below some of Bush’s political peers, who have far outpaced that level of giving, particularly as they made more money or began eyeing an election.

More here.

AP: Jeb Bush's Foundation received donations from businesses, schools

From the Associated Press:

Big-time donors to a nonprofit educational group founded by Jeb Bush, disclosed for the first time Wednesday, highlight the intersection between Bush's roles in the worlds of business, policy and politics years before he began running for president. Bush provided the names to The Associated Press.

After leaving the Florida governor's office in 2007, Bush formed the Foundation for Excellence in Education, with a mission "to build an American education system that equips every child to achieve their God-given potential." With Bush serving as president, the group attracted $46 million from donors through 2014.

That donor list shows the circular connections as Bush moved from governor to education advocate to corporate board member. Supporters in each of those stages of his career contributed to his educational foundation — which, in turn, sometimes supported causes benefiting its donors. They include Rupert Murdoch's media giant News Corp., GOP mega-donor Paul Singer's foundation, energy companies such as Exxon Mobil, even the Florida Lottery.

The voluntary release of the donor names comes less than 24 hours after Bush took the unprecedented step of releasing 33 years of personal tax returns.

More here.

CNN/ORC poll: Jeb Bush rises and Marco Rubio falls but Hillary Clinton ahead of them both

A new CNN/ORC poll shows former Gov. Jeb Bush on the rise and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio down since May while Democrat Hillary Clinton continues to lead all GOP candidates in general election match-ups.

Bush stands at 19 percent, up from 13 percent in May. Trump follows at 12 percent, up from 3 percent before his announcement.

Rounding out the top five were former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (8 percent), neurosurgeon Ben Carson (7 percent) and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (7 percent).

Rubio was absent from the top five but just barely: he stood at 6 percent, down from 14 percent in May. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who has not yet announced was also at 6 percent.

Clinton holds wide leads over other Democratic challengers. In a general election match-up, she holds leads over all the GOPers including Bush (54-41), Trump (59-34) and Rubio (56-39).

The poll was conducted by telephone June 26-28, among a random national sample of 1,017 adults. The margin of sampling error for results among the full sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points. 

Which presidential candidate released the most tax returns in history?

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush released 33 years of tax returns, casting it as the high water mark of transparency for presidential hopefuls.

"Today, I’m releasing 33 years of tax returns – more than any presidential candidate in history," Bush said on his website. He also bragged about it on Twitter. The returns run from 1981 to 2013.

We wondered if Bush’s 33 years was indeed the most ever, and that does appear to be the case. We also found it’s highly unusual for a candidate to share so many returns, especially so early in the campaign.

Turn to PolitiFact to see what we found.

June 30, 2015

Jeb Bush's income rose to $7.4 million in 2013

via @adamsmithtimes @learyreports

The Bush family mantra has been consistent for generations: First make a lot of money, and then focus on public service.

Jeb Bush followed that path before running for governor of Florida in the 1990s, and 33 years of newly released tax returns show how the Republican embraced that strategy with zeal before launching his presidential campaign this year.

Bush's income jumped from $261,000 in 2006, his final year as governor, to more than $2.2 million in 2007. Then, from 2010 through 2013, tax returns released Tuesday show his annual income exploded from $3.2 million to nearly $7.4 million. (He got an extension until Oct. 15 to file his 2014 return.)

The vast majority of income came from consulting and speaking fees, where Bush earned between $40,000 and $75,000 apiece for dozens of appearances before business and trade groups, colleges, and organizations ranging from The Salvation Army to a South Korean defense contractor.

More here.

With Jeb Bush releasing 33 years of tax returns, focus will be on his earnings since he left office

via @learyreports

Jeb Bush on Tuesday will release 33 years of income tax returns, a figure his campaign says is more than any other presidential candidate in history.

Much attention will be paid to Bush’s later returns, when his final term as Florida governor ended. He began a lucrative consulting business and joined a host of corporate boards. He is expected to have earned millions.

“This is more than any presidential candidate in the history of the United States,” campaign spokeswoman Allie Brandenburger said. “This display of transparency is consistent with the high level of disclosure he has practiced during his life in public office.”

Bush’s ties to some companies, including Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers, has already drawn scrutiny from reporters and rivals. Last week a Super PAC backing Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky launched an online ad in early primary states mocking Bush as “Bailout Bush,” for his support for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, that propped up the financial industry.

Bush likely will push a broader look at his finances, emphasizing his private-sector work and charitable giving.

More here.

How much did college tuition go up in Florida under Jeb Bush?

Former Gov. Jeb Bush likes to advertise education reforms during his two terms in office, but the Florida Democratic Party wants to remind voters those changes came at a price.

In a joint press release with the Texas Democratic Party ahead of a fundraising visit to the Lone Star state, Democrats compared Bush to fellow presidential hopeful Rick Perry, the former Texas governor. In a chart listing dubious gubernatorial achievements, Dems said Bush "oversaw (an) average in-state tuition increase of 48.2 percent during his tenure."

Did public university tuition go up by almost 50 percent in eight years during Bush’s two terms? That number is more or less correct, but there’s more to the Bush-era education overhaul than that.

See what Joshua Gillin of PolitiFact Florida found and see Bush's full Truth-O-Meter record.