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.

February 12, 2015

Jeb Bush hires New Hampshire adviser

via @learyreports

Jeb Bush took his first decisive step toward competing in New Hampshire's presidential primary today by hiring well-known operative Rich Killion as an adviser to his Right to Rise PAC.

Bush will also travel to the Granite State on March 13-14, according to spokeswoman Kristy Campbell.

Killion has been a senior adviser to numerous individuals and campaigns in New Hampshire including Mitt RomneyTim Pawlenty, Senate President Chuck Morse and former gubernatorial nominee John Stephen.

Killion touted Bush's conservative record as Florida governor and said his "optimistic vision and willingness to fight to remove the barriers to upward mobility is a message that needs to be heard in every corner of the Granite State."

Democratic-leaning firefighters union likes Jeb Bush

via @LightmanDavid

Courting political power brokers at a recent closed-door meeting, Jeb Bush included one unlikely face.

There among big names from the worlds of lobbying, fundraising and politics was one leader of a labor union, Harold Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters. “They went around the room and introduced themselves. They came to me, and you could almost see everyone taking note,” he said later of the meeting hosted by the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors.

That meeting, one of several Bush held in Washington over the last month, was an important moment in the former Florida governor’s campaign to woo the nation’s political A list as he considers a run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

The firefighters’ union is likely to endorse a Democrat for president, just as it’s done in every recent election. But lots of members have a clear affection for Bush, a strong supporter of their interests when he was governor. And that also could temper the firefighters’ support for likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

More here.

WaPo: Defining the Marco Rubio-Jeb Bush relationship

The Washington Post interviewed U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio about his connection to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, now that both men are thinking about running for the Republican presidential nomination.

Many in Florida have long seen Rubio as the student and Bush, 19 years his senior, as the teacher. But Rubio, who rose in the state legislature during Bush’s tenure and became House speaker after Bush left office, characterizes things differently — saying he learned by “watching him and working near him.”

“I wouldn’t diminish the relationship or exaggerate it,” Rubio said in an interview this week in Florida.

“It wasn’t that he sat me down and gave me a lecture about it; you learn from being exposed to people,” Rubio added.

More here.

February 10, 2015

Did Jeb Bush's emails release Floridians' sensitive information?

via @learyreports

A blog called the Verge today had a report with a sexy headline: "Jeb Bush just dumped emails, home addresses, and social security numbers of Florida residents online." And under that it read: "Florida man strikes again."

It noted that Jeb Bush's massive email dump, made available on a website Tuesday, contained sensitive material, and cited a couple examples, with the implication Bush recklessly released the info.

That's not quite true. In May 2014, a lawyer for Bush, Raquel Rodriguez, wrote a letter to the state explicitly asking that the state, which bears the burden, redact any information first.

"We hope these emails will be available permanently to the public, provided the records are first reviewed by state officials in accordance with Florida Statute to ensure information exempt from public disclosure is redacted before release, including social security numbers of Florida citizens who contacted Governor Bush for assistance; personal identifying information related to victims of crime or abuse; confidential law enforcement intelligence; and other information made confidential or exempt by applicable law."

Others who riffed on the Verge report suggested the mere disclosure of email addresses was a sin. Anyone who emailed Bush (or Charlie Crist or Rick Scott) is creating a public record.

Bush got beat to his own email. Weeks ago, the liberal American Bridge and the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting made the emails available online. News organizations includng the Tampa Bay Times, combed through them, some publishing the email addresses and names of people who wrote to Bush.

Does Bush bear some responsibility?

Wrote the Verge: "At minimum, it shows a serious ignorance of the volume of sensitive information in the records and a carelessness about their disclosure — not a good look for someone who called himself the first 'eGovernor,' let alone a man who may want to sit in the White House."

Bush spokesman Kristy Campbell tells the Times that two emails flagged by Verge were redacted, and the Bush camp is looking for others.

Sidenote: Rodriguez' May 2014 letter is a strong sign of how early Bush was planning what looks like a presidential run.

Jeb Bush to raise money, discuss education in Tallahassee

BushFormer Gov. Jeb Bush's first public appearance in Florida as a likely presidential candidate will be a return to familiar ground in more ways than one.

In addition to hosting a $1,000-a-person lunchtime fundraiser in the capital Tuesday, Bush will convene state leaders to discuss a favorite topic: education.

He is expected to address the school accountability and choice programs he launched more than 15 years ago, and look forward to the future of Florida’s public schools.

"Florida’s impressive gains in student achievement began 15 years ago with the A+ Plan for Education," said Patricia Levesque, the executive director of Bush’s non-profit Foundation for Florida's Future. "Annual testing, data-driven accountability and educational choices were a huge part of the transformational improvements that followed, supporting work in classrooms to keep students from falling through the cracks."

The summit, however, comes at a time when many of Bush's signature education policies have come under fire.

Parents have complained so loudly about testing that the legislature is working to scale back the number of exams. What's more, a voucher program for children from low-income families is facing a legal challenge from the statewide teachers union, PTA, school boards association and other groups.

Late Monday, teachers voiced concerns about Bush's policies in a telephone town hall hosted by the left-leaning non-profit Progress Florida.

Some plan to protest Tuesday's event.

"Jeb Bush calls himself the education governor but Florida public schools are a mess as a result of Jeb’s misguided policies," said Thomas James, a Miami-Dade teacher and member of the Florida Badass Teacher Association. "Not only has Florida dropped to No. 28 nationally in Education Weekly’s recent rankings, Florida public school students have become little more than 'test drones' being bombarded with an array of standardized high stakes tests which eat up as much as 45 school days per year."

The statewide teachers union will not be participating in the protest. But Florida Education Association Vice President Joanne McCall called Bush’s summit "a Kabuki dance."

"He’s gathered all of the stakeholders to make sure nothing is dismantled of his legacy because that legacy will be his springboard for the presidency," McCall said. "The bottom line for us is that we’ve had 15 years of failed reform and the system is crumbling."

Bush announced in December that he was considering a presidential bid. He has launched a political action committee called Right to Rise to facilitate a possible campaign.

A poll last week had Bush leading among potential Republicans candidates in New Hampshire.

Jeb Bush on emailing, being Florida governor and probably running for president

via @learyreports

Jeb Bush opens his forthcoming book with a simple declaration: “I loved being the governor of Florida.”

“It was my dream job, and that feeling never changed, not in eight years,” writes Bush, who led the state from 1999-2007. “Not through the hurricanes, budget debates, or even hanging chads.”

On Tuesday, Bush is releasing the first chapter of his eBook on a website containing a vast archive of emails from his time as governor — one that shows someone who got down in the weeds, constantly pestering staffers to “fup,” or follow up please, as much as he muscled through a sweeping conservative vision for the state.

“My staff estimated I spent 30 hours a week answering emails, either from my laptop or Blackberry, often while on the road,” Bush writes. “The idea of this book, through the use of these emails, is to tell the story of a life of a governor. No day is like the one before it… The unexpected became the expected.”

Bush has done everything but formally declare he is running for president in 2016. He is furiously raising money, has assembled a team of top political talent and is beginning to make public speeches across the country. What could possibly be left?

More here.

February 09, 2015

Terri Schiavo's husband pens letter to the Miami Herald editor

Michael Schiavo, husband of the late Terri Schiavo, has written a letter to the Miami Herald editor in response to a column by WPLG-ABC 10's Michael Putney. The Terri Schiavo case, which centered on her husband's legal right to take her off life support, has received new scrutiny now that Jeb Bush -- who was then Florida's governor -- is considering running for president. 

Putney writes that it was “doctrinaire liberals” who opposed Bush’s involvement in the tragic case of Terri Schiavo — my then-wife.

Who is Putney referring to as the “doctrinaire liberals” who were horrified by the former governor’s intervention in my family’s trauma? The Republican Attorney General Charlie Crist, who refused to take up the governor’s crusade? Republican Senate President Jim King, who fought Bush on passage of “Terri’s Law?” Pinellas County Judge George Greer, a Republican and Southern Baptist, who looked at the evidence of my wife’s case before having his rulings tossed aside by a governor who never met her?

Does he mean me, a registered Republican?

More here.

Top Florida GOP fundraiser to host Coral Gables event for Jeb Bush's PAC


Mike Fernandez, the Coral Gables healthcare magnate who at one point was Florida Gov. Rick Scott's top fundraiser before clashing with the governor's reelection campaign, is hosting an event next month to benefit his friend and likely presidential candidate Jeb Bush.

The event, hosted by Fernandez and his wife, Constance, will take place March 9, according to an invitation obtained by the Miami Herald, and benefit Bush's super-PAC, Right to Rise.

Donors are asked to contribute $10,000 for the reception at the Fernadezes' Gables Estates home. A contribution of $50,000 includes the reception, a photo with Bush and membership in the PAC's Florida Finance Committee. A contribution of $100,000 includes membership in the PAC's Florida Executive Committee and attendance at a 45-minute "leadership roundtable" with Bush prior to the reception.

Fernandez, a billionaire entrepreneur, recently published a memoir, Humbled by the Journey. The book's proceeds will benefit charity.

--with Douglas Hanks