March 22, 2017

Jeb Bush joins board of Boca Raton communications-tower firm

APTOPIX GOP 2016 Bush
@PatriciaMazzei

Jeb Bush has joined the board of directors of Vertical Bridge, a communications-tower company based in Boca Raton.

In a statement released by the company, the former Florida governor and 2016 presidential hopeful praised Vertical Bridge's growth "and the smart capital deployment" of its parent Company, Digital Bridge.

"I have long been a strong proponent of the role that improved telecommunications infrastructure can and should play in enhancing our quality of life in so many diverse ways," Bush said. "I look forward to contributing to the continued progress at Vertical Bridge."

The company, which is three years old, says it's the largest private owner and manager of telecommunications assets in the country. It's looking to Bush's expertise as the federal government moves to expand infrastructure for an integrated communications network for first responders, said Marc Ganzi, Vertical Bridge's executive chairman and co-founder.

"Public safety is going to be a big growth area," Ganzi said. "Having a public servant like the governor on our board -- who understands public safety, first responders and public agencies -- that was the real, strategic push for why we brought him in."

Ganzi's relationship with the Bush family dates back decades. (Ganzi even interned in then-President George H.W. Bush's White House.) Jeb Bush also sits on the board Dock Square Capital LLC, a Miami-based merchant back whose affiliate, Dock Square Communications LP, is investing in Vertical Bridge now that Bush is one of its directors.\

This post has been updated to correct Ganzi's title.

Photo credit: Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press

March 01, 2017

How Trump's speech echoed Rick Scott, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush

Trumpspeech030117_8col
via @learyreports

WASHINGTON -- President Trump’s speech last night can be viewed through three of Florida’s top political figures: Rick Scott, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush.

First there was Trump’s passage about Obamacare.

“We should give our state governors the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out," he said.

That could be lifted directly from Scott’s talking points from several recent trips to Washington. Scott says the state could more effectively design ways to use the funding. Scott in 2013 backed Medicaid expansion under Obamacare but was blocked by the House and then said he was against expansion, followed by calls for flexibility.

Next there was Trump’s call for “merit-based” immigration. As a senator and presidential candidate, Rubio has called for a major shift from family-based immigration to that based on what a person can contribute economically.

"Today, we have a legal immigration system for permanent residency that is largely based on whether or not you have a relative living here. And that’s the way my parents came legally in 1956,” Rubio said in an October 2015 presidential debate.

“But in 2015, we have a very different economy. Our legal immigration system from now on has to be merit-based. It has to be based on what skills you have, what you can contribute economically, and most important of all, on whether or not you’re coming here to become an American, not just live in America, but be an American.”

Bush as a cadidate also talked about a shift that rewards people with work skills rather than the family-based immigration system in place.

Finally, Trump spoke of education, calling it “the civil rights issue of our time.” He said: "I am calling upon members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children. These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them.”

That’s straight from Bush’s playbook. Making the tie even stronger, Trump pointed to a young woman in the audience, Denisha Merriweather, a Jacksonville woman who benefited from the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. It was Bush who first highlighted her story and Merriweather appeared on the campaign trail with him.

“We want all children to be able to break the cycle of poverty just like Denisha,” Trump said.

On Twitter, Bush wrote:

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Photo credit: Jim Lo Scalzo, pool photo via Associated Press

February 28, 2017

Jeb Bush ally among Trump's guests for speech to Congress

DenishaJeb

via @learyreports

A Florida woman who became an ally of Jeb Bush on school reform will be a guest of President Donald Trump's for the Tuesday night address to a joint session of Congress.

Denisha Merriweather of Jacksonville was named in a White House news release. "After struggling with coursework as a child and switching schools often, Denisha moved in with her godmother and enrolled in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program," the description reads. "She began going to a private school, Esprit de Corps Center for Learning, and would go on to be the first member of her family to graduate from high school and college."

Merriweather's success was championed by Bush, and he frequently invoked her on the campaign trail.

Keep reading here for the rest of Trump's guests.

February 07, 2017

Bush congratulates DeVos on confirmation

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON -- Jeb Bush celebrated the confirmation today of Betsy DeVos as education secretary.

“I congratulate Betsy DeVos on her confirmation as our nation’s next Secretary of Education. The president made an excellent choice to lead the Department of Education," Bush wrote in a statement from his education foundation, whose board DeVos sat on.

DeVos, who struggled through her confirmation hearing, barely made it through the Senate, with Vice President Mike Pence having to cast a tie breaker. Florida Sen. Bill Nelson voted against her and Sen. Marco Rubio voted in favor.

But for Bush and other education advocates, it is a win nonetheless. Bush wrote several letters and op/eds on DeVos' behalf.

"Millions of families share Secretary DeVos’s vision for disrupting a failed status quo that has denied too many children access to a quality education," Bush said today. "It’s time to upend the entrenched special interests that put adults above genuine reforms that will raise student achievement. I hope the senators who opposed Secretary DeVos’s nomination will now put aside the tired arguments of the unions and come together to prioritize the needs of students. Under Secretary DeVos’s leadership, I am confident the federal government will loosen its grip on our education system and return power to the states and parents where it rightfully belongs.” 

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

January 13, 2017

Bush: I probably won't ever run for office again

From the Associated Press:

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose bid for the presidency was derailed by businessman and eventual winner Donald Trump, says it's unlikely he'll run for office again.

Bush said Thursday that "life goes on" and that he's focused on building up his business again and working with the foundation he created to push for changes in education policy. He's also ruling out running again for governor in his home state.

Bush was Florida's governor from 1999 to 2007. When he jumped into the race for the GOP presidential nomination, he was initially viewed as the front runner.

But he ended his bid for the White House after he lost the South Carolina primary.

Bush is spending time this month teaching a class on the role of governors at Texas A&M University.

January 12, 2017

Bush camp says it had nothing to do with Russian dirt on Trump

via @learyreports

A BBC report this week asserted that the super PAC supporting Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign had paid for salacious opposition research on Donald Trump that the president-elect vigorously dismissed yesterday as “FAKE NEWS.”

But Bush’s camp says that nonsense and has gotten the BBC to correct its story. The dossier had circulated among news organizations for months but none ran with it because the claims could not be verified.

BuzzFeed this week published the document, drawing Trump’s wrath.

“To be clear, Right to Rise USA had nothing to do with the research or dossier and has sent a cease & desist letter to the BBC demanding a correction,” Charlie Spies, a lawyer for Right to Rise USA, said in an email to the Tampa Bay Times.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

January 11, 2017

Fraud case that dogged Bush for 18 years comes to an end

via @adamsmithtimes

A long-running federal fraud case involving Jeb Bush, a Nigerian billionaire, a South Florida pump company and allegations of fraud, bribery and suitcases full of cash has finally run its course, with the company accused of ripping off the government cleared of any liability.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case Monday, effectively ending the epic whistleblower saga in which the government had accused politically-connected Deerfield Beach-based Moving Water Industries of fraudulently obtaining more than $74 million in federal Export-Import Banks loans for Nigeria to buy MWI water pumps in 1992.

"MWI is a small family-owned business located in Deerfield Beach since 1926 and this case has been extremely costly in terms of legal fees incurred and lost business since 1998," said MWI vice president and general counsel William Bucknam. "We are looking forward to resuming our previous international business activities providing pumps to grow food, mitigate flood waters and provide a source of safe drinking water in remote villages without electricity."

Continue reading "Fraud case that dogged Bush for 18 years comes to an end" »

January 10, 2017

Bush writes Senate on behalf of Trump education pick DeVos

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON -- Jeb Bush is making a push for Donald Trump’s choice to run the Department of Education, arguing Betsy DeVos will be an advocate for school choice.

“Betsy is a champion of families, not institutions,” Bush writes in a letter to leaders of the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “For her, local control of education decisions means local control. She trusts parents to choose what is in their unique child's best interests, and she believes in providing every parent with the resources to pursue those decisions.

“I’m confident that, as Secretary, Betsy will pursue every opportunity to improve all of our nation's schools and empower states, districts and parents to maximize the number of high-quality learning opportunities available to our kids.”

DeVos’ policy positions have sparked fierce opposition from Democrats and Sen. Patty Murray, the lead Democrat on the committee, said the nomination should be postponed until DeVos’ ethics review is complete. On Monday night it was announced the hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, will push to next week.

Bush writes that he has known DeVos for more than 20 years — in recent years she has served on the board of Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education — and that DeVos “has become the voice of mothers and fathers who for too long have lacked one in America's education system.”

He goes on to explain “two false narratives about the parental choice movement are pertinent to this nomination and to the future of our education system.”

Read his full letter below.

Continue reading "Bush writes Senate on behalf of Trump education pick DeVos" »

January 04, 2017

Jeb Bush to give speech in Texas same night as Obama's farewell address

GOP 2016 Bush

@amysherman1

Former Gov. Jeb Bush will give a speech at Texas A&M University on Jan. 10th -- the same night that President Barack Obama gives his farewell address.

The George Bush Presidential Library Foundation at the university will host the 6 p.m. event.

Bush will also teach a 10-day course on gubernatorial leadership at the university starting Jan. 6th.

(Associated Press phot of Bush taking questions from reporters following a town hall-style meeting at La Progresiva Presbyterian School in Little Havana in 2015.)

December 21, 2016

Jeb Bush: 'Far left' has tried to tarnish Trump's EPA pick Pruitt

via @learyreports

More signs that Jeb Bush is digging Donald Trump’s administration …

In a piece for CNN.com, Bush writes: “I cannot think of a person more suited to lead the Environmental Protection Agency than Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, someone who understands how to rein in an out-of-control bureaucracy and ensure that Washington focuses solely on its core functions.”

“The far left has tried to distort Pruitt's views in a lame attempt to make him into an anti-science boogeyman. The Scott Pruitt I know is far from it. Unlike liberals who want to shut down any rational debate about climate change, Pruitt has acknowledged human impact on the climate and supports a robust discussion about its effects and what the government should and shouldn't do to address it." ...

“I know Pruitt will be successful because I went through this process firsthand running for governor in Florida. Many Democrats claimed that my views were extreme and that I would ruin our beautiful and unique habitat. What they found was exactly the opposite. Applying conservative principles, we streamlined the bureaucracy, saved the state money and invested in Florida's environment, including setting out on a historic effort to restore America's Everglades -- something the federal government had failed to do."

Bush has made favorable comments about Trump's picks.