February 22, 2015

WaPo: After customs incident, Jeb Bush's wife took out loan to buy pricey jewelry

From the Washington Post:

In 1999, Columba Bush, the famously private wife of then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, was detained and fined by federal customs officials for misrepresenting the amount of clothing and jewelry she had bought while on a solo five-day shopping spree in Paris.

The incident left the Florida first lady deeply mortified and her husband politically chagrined. Jeb Bush said the first lady had misled customs officials because she did not want him to know that she had spent about $19,000 on the trip.

“The embarrassment I felt made me ashamed to face my family and friends,” Columba Bush said in a July 1999 speech to the Central Florida Make-a-Wish Foundation, not long after the incident. “It was the worst feeling I’ve ever had in my life.”

The ordeal did not stop her from spending freely, however. Less than a year later, she took out a loan to buy $42,311.70 worth of jewelry on a single day, according to records filed with the state of Florida by Mayors Jewelers.

That purchase was part of a pattern by Columba Bush of borrowing to buy tens of thousands of dollars of jewelry at a time from the South Florida store over a 14-year period. Documentation available online, which does not include the details of two transactions made less than six weeks apart in 1995, shows that she spent a total of more than $90,000 at the store.

More here.

February 21, 2015

Jeb Bush publicly advocated for fracking while privately investing in industry

via @adamsmithtimes @learyreports

In the summer of 2013, well before he became an all-but-declared presidential candidate, Jeb Bush spoke to conservatives gathered in New York. He talked up the promise of education reform, immigration and policies to boost America's economy — standard lecture circuit talk for which the former Florida governor often commanded $40,000 a speech.

Still, the part about "a patriotic energy policy" was especially timely, coming amid heated debate over whether Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo should lift the state's moratorium on the controversial oil and natural gas drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing.

Fracking.

"Some states, like yours here in New York, are choosing not to grow. They won't approve fracking," Bush said, his veiled shot at Cuomo drawing roars of approval from Republicans gathered at a Sheraton in Manhattan. "Meanwhile, in parts of New York where huge opportunities exist for the restoration of economic activity, people languish."

Bush left unmentioned that fracking in the Marcellus Shale beneath the New York-Pennsylvania border also presented a big opportunity for himself.

More here.

NYT profiles Jeb Bush's wife, Columba

The New York Times reports on the political reticence of Columba Bush, the former Florida first lady, who has always been far more private than her husband and likely Republican presidential candidate, Jeb Bush

For 20 years, Columba Bush anticipated the day she would have to answer one big question: Would she support her husband, Jeb Bush, if he decided to run for president?

Last summer and fall, as she wrestled with whether to say yes, her sense of duty was mixed with dread.

Born in Mexico, she had married into a famously political American family and had always been an outsider: a prayerful Roman Catholic, a sensitive loner and lover of the arts who still speaks in heavily accented English. As Florida’s first lady, she had arranged Mass in the governor’s mansion and endured weeks of bad press for a European shopping spree. She blamed politics for friction in her marriage and as a factor in her daughter’s drug addiction. A run for the White House would expose her to the spotlight as never before.

“She knows the good and the bad of being around politics,” said Jim Towey, an official in the administration of President George W. Bush, Jeb’s brother, and a close friend to both Jeb and Columba. “It’s opened the door to extraordinary experiences for her. But she’s paid quite a price, as well.”

A note: The Times piece says Columba Bush gave her final blessing to her husband's presidential ambitions on Thanksgiving. Past Miami Herald reporting suggests she had given her tacit approval by 2011.

Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush question President Obama's policies, not his patriotism

via @learyreports

Sen. Marco Rubio was asked by a Florida radio station on Friday about Rudy Giuliani's comment that President Barack Obama does not love America.

"I don’t feel like I’m in a position to have to answer for every person in my party that makes a claim," Rubio replied. "Democrats aren’t asked to answer every time Joe Biden says something embarrassing, so I don’t know why I should answer every time a Republican does. I’ll suffice it to say that I believe the President loves America; I think his ideas are bad."

And here's Jeb Bush: "Governor Bush doesn't question President Obama's motives. He does question President Obama's disastrous policies," spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

February 20, 2015

Bloomberg: The 8 biggest donors who could change the Republican race for president

From Bloomberg:

There are billionaires who could upend the state of play simply by opening their checkbooks.

Bush takeaway: Jeb Bush hasn't hooked the biggest fish of all: Multimillionaires and billionaires who have shown their willingness to write $1 million checks if they take a shine to a particular candidate. Their nearly unlimited ability to donate to super-PACs can give poorly funded campaigns a booster shot of outside assistance, usually in the form of attack ads.  

Rubio takeaway: 

Harold Simmons, a Dallas-based investor whose holdings included a nuclear waste dump, spent more than $26 million on super-PACs and candidates in 2012, making him the cycle's second-most active donor, after Adelson.  He died in December 2013. It's an open question how much his widow, Annette,  will participate in 2016 politics, if at all. But there's one interesting sign: In December, she contributed $5,000 to Sen. Marco Rubio's political action committee. If she is inclined as her husband was to participate in presidential king-making, the Center for Responsive Politics noted, she "could be just the spark a candidate like Rubio needs to battle through the first primaries."

More here.

February 18, 2015

Jeb Bush to say he'll be his 'own man' on foreign policy

via @lesleyclark

Jeb Bush will slam President Barack Obama for an “inconsistent and indecisive” foreign policy on Wednesday in his second speech in as many weeks aimed at introducing himself to voters as he considers a potential run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

At the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the former Florida governor will say he questions whether the administration believes that the U.S. can be a force for good in the world and will outline policies he says will help the U.S. “regain its leadership in the world.”

“Under this administration, we are inconsistent and indecisive,” Bush will say, according to prepared remarks released by his political action committee, Right to Rise. “We have lost the trust and the confidence of our friends. We definitely no longer inspire fear in our enemies.”

But Bush will also seek to distance himself from his father, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, whose handling of the war in Iraq remains deeply unpopular with many voters.

“I love my father and my brother. I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions they had to make,” he says in prepared remarks. “But I am my own man – and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences.”

Bush will say also that “each president learns from those who came before” and that every president “inherits a changing world… and changing circumstances.”

He will criticize the administration for not matching its words with action, singling out Obama for invoking a “red line” against Syrian leader Assad, but failing to carry through.

“They draw red lines … then erase them,” he will say. And he will raise the Russian “reset” -- a policy championed by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom he could potentially face in a presidential matchup.

“With grandiosity, they announce resets and disengage,” Bush will say. “Hashtag campaigns replace actual diplomacy and engagement. Personal diplomacy and maturity is replaced by leaks and personal disparagement.”

He will also say that the president “needs to be backed by the greatest military power in the world” and will call on Obama to “call on leaders of both parties to fix the budget and address the shortfalls in our defense spending.

“He should show leadership – and commitment to solving the problem,” Bush will say, adding that a powerful military “also makes it less likely that we will need to put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way.

“Because I believe, fundamentally, that weakness invites war… and strength encourages peace,” he will say.

February 17, 2015

Jeb Bush's immigration position wins GOP donors' praise

via @learyreports

Jeb Bush was held up by top Republican donors today as one of the party’s best voices to champion immigration reform in the coming presidential election.

Both Mike Fernandez, a major GOP donor in Florida, and Spencer Zwick, who national finance chairman of Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, singled out Bush during a conference call this afternoon.

“Certainly Gov. Bush has decided to lead on this issue,” Zwick said, adding any candidate needs to clearly say where they are on the issue and not try to say the “most outrageous thing so that they can make national news.”

“We have to have someone who is willing to take on this issue,” he said. “We have to nominate a candidate who is willing to let action be stronger than inaction. Because as Republicans, we’ve let inaction be our model for too long."

The call was arranged by the Partnership for a New American Economy, a Republican group that has tried to push for reform. At the outset Fernandez talked about his own immigrant story, arriving from Cuba in 1965.

“Had you met me back then you would have seen me cleaning animal cages at a hospital,” the billionaire healthcare CEO said. “I could have easily been confused with one of the 11 million undocumented residents we have in this country today.

He said the booming Hispanic population in the U.S. is a “game changer” and that it would be unwise for Republicans not to embrace the community. “We need to welcome these individuals. These individuals are risk takers. They did not come here for anything else other than improving their lives and we need them in order to improve our economy.”

GOP donors and leaders such as Grover Norquist, who was also on the call, have long called for immigration reform.

But those calls stand against a conservative base that has demanded a hardline position that forced Romney to talk about self deportation and figures such as Sen. Marco Rubio to move off calls for a comprehensive approach.

'That's not leadership,' Jeb Bush says of Obama's executive action on immigration

@PatriciaMazzei

Jeb Bush took to Facebook Tuesday to criticize President Obama's executive action on immigration last year, following the ruling by a federal judge in Texas late Monday temporarily blocking Obama's move.

"Last year, the president overstepped his executive authority and, in turn, hurt the effort toward a commonsense immigration solution," Bush wrote. "That's not leadership. The millions of families affected across the country deserve better.

"Now, more than ever, we need President Obama to work with Congress to secure the border and fix our broken immigration system."

Bush's support of an immigration overhaul -- he co-authored a book about it, Immigration Wars -- doesn't sit well with some of the GOP's conservative grassroots. By calling out Obama for the way he has gone about letting millions of immigrants in the country illegally stay, Bush has found a way to oppose the president, at least when it comes to process.

Proponents of immigration reform have noted that Bush's father, President George H.W. Bush, allowed 1.5 million unauthorized immigrants to stay in the U.S. with a 1990 executive action. That's far fewer than the nearly 5 million people affected by Obama's latest action.

Obama first allowed immigrants brought illegally as children to remain in the country. That original policy, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was unaffected by Monday's ruling in Texas. 

But Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement Tuesday that the department won't begin to accept DACA extensions tomorrow, as planned, and won't be accepting applications for the new policy, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, known as DAPA. 

The Justice Department plans to appeal the Texas decision, which resulted from a lawsuit filed by a coalition of 26 states, including Florida.

February 15, 2015

Jeb Bush has kept his distance from Iowa, where the voter landscape looks hostile

via @learyreports

BOONE, Iowa — Mark Doss wants to ask Jeb Bush a question. "Why do you say you're willing to lose the primary to win the general election?"

Bush said those words two months ago in Washington, a place that seems a million miles from this country town about an hour northwest of Des Moines. But to Doss, an Evangelical church administrator, it was personal, almost "vindictive."

"It felt like he's saying, 'I don't care about you.' I was a bit turned off."

As Bush prepares to formally enter the race for president, there is a glaring disconnect between his ravenous fundraising and support among the Republican elite, and the reception from everyday voters like Doss, 57.

"A lot of people don't like him or have reservations," said Doss, who joined his wife on a 14-degree afternoon at Dutch Oven Bakery, a cozy spot filled with the smells of coffee and fresh doughnuts. "He has embraced Common Core, immigration and represents the establishment. It's a serious problem."

"But it can be overcome," Doss added. "He needs to make his case clearly and reaffirm all the other things conservatives are looking for — a balanced budget, strong military."

More here.

February 13, 2015

Jeb Bush's PAC spreads wealth to GOPers in key primary states

via @lesleyclark

Jeb Bush’s political action committee announced Friday that it’s delivered more than $120,000 to Republican candidates and early primary states as the former Florida governor launches an aggressive fund raising bid and potential run for the Republican presidential nomination.

Bush’s Right to Rise gave $10,000 each to the Republican parties in states that play outsize roles in the primaries and early presidential contest including Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Bush also gave $5,200 to Sens. Kelly Ayotte, N.H.; Richard Burr, N.C.; Chuck Grassley, Iowa; Rob Portman, Ohio; Tim Scott, S.C. and Reps. Barbara Comstock, Va.; Trey Gowdy, S.C.; Frank Guinta, N.H.; Joe Heck, Nevada; Mia Love, Utah; Martha McSally, Ariz.; Elise Stefanik, N.Y.; David Young, Iowa; and Lee Zeldin, N.Y.

Bush, who serves as honorary chair of his committee, said in a statement he was “proud to support great conservative candidates who are committed to renewing America's promise by expanding opportunity and igniting upward mobility in our country.”

The distributions come as Bush gears up a formidable fund raising operation. Bush was to raise money on Wall Street Wednesday at what Politico called an “eye-popping $100,000 per-ticket Park Avenue event hosted by private equity mogul Henry Kravis and his wife.”

The Sunlight Foundation notes the committee has at least two events next week, including one in Washington, D.C., hosted by BGR Group, a mostly Republican lobbying group founded by former Mississippi Gov. and Republican National Committee chairman Haley Barbour.