April 15, 2016

Donald Trump thinks Jeb Bush should move to New York

via @learyreports

“You say, what are NY values? Number one, honesty and straight talking. It’s a work ethic, hard working people. It’s about family. New York — believe it — is about family. So important.

"It’s the energy to get things done. Big energy. If Jeb Bush came here, I’m telling you, he’d have much more energy than he has right now. I’m telling you. He should move to New York, right?"

--Donald Trump on Thursday night at the New York State Republican Gala in Manhattan.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

April 11, 2016

The campaign-finance legacy of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON -- $235 million.

Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio burned through that much cash before joining the heap of failed 2016 presidential candidates, an astounding figure even in the big-money era.

But more important, the Floridians pushed new boundaries of campaign finance, setting examples likely to be copied by other candidates while leaving behind a string of complaints from watchdog groups contending laws were broken.

“They are pilgrims on the path to destroying the campaign finance system,” said Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21, an advocacy group that filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission, the IRS and the Justice Department.

For months, Bush insisted he was not a candidate while traveling the country to collect millions for a super PAC. The undeclared status allowed Bush to work closely with Right to Rise and take in unlimited donations instead of the $2,700 individual contribution limit his campaign faced.

By the time Bush announced, he had amassed most of his $100 million “shock and awe” war chest.

Rubio benefitted from a nonprofit that also collected huge donations — at least $16 million — and financed TV ads in early nominating states. The tax-exempt group provided donors with the cloak of anonymity, injecting untraceable “dark money” into the political discourse.

“He took the outside-money world from unlimited contributions to unlimited secret contributions and created a very dangerous precedent,” Wertheimer said.

More here.

April 05, 2016

Jeb Bush super PAC lays out plan to refund $12M to donors

via @learyreports

Jeb Bush's Super PAC plans to give anyone who contributed $1,000 or more at least a 10 percent refund, part of a plan to return $12 million in unused funds.

"This process will entail making over three-thousand (3,000+) contribution refunds and we anticipate starting and completing this process in May," reads a letter from treasurer Charlie Spies.

Right to Rise raised a breathtaking $118 million and spent much of that trying to prop up Bush and knock down his opponents. Bush left the race on the night of the Feb. 20 South Carolina primary.

The Tampa Bay Times obtained the letter from a donor, and it appears in full below:

Continue reading "Jeb Bush super PAC lays out plan to refund $12M to donors" »

March 30, 2016

Jeb Bush returns to giving paid speeches

via @learyreports

Jeb Bush has returned to the paid speech circuit, his representative announced Wednesday, saying he "elevates the conversation on how to address the key challenges facing America today."

The gig pays very well. Bush earned nearly $10 million from 2007 through the end of 2014, according to documents released last summer by his presidential campaign.

The Washington Speakers Bureau said it is representing Bush exclusively and described him as below:

Continue reading "Jeb Bush returns to giving paid speeches" »

March 23, 2016

Jeb Bush endorses Ted Cruz


Jeb Bush on Wednesday endorsed Ted Cruz, calling on Republicans to coalesce around the Texas senator and “overcome the divisiveness and vulgarity Donald Trump has brought into the political arena.”

Bush, who declined to endorse Marco Rubio before the March 15 Florida primary, called Cruz “a consistent, principled conservative who has demonstrated the ability to appeal to voters and win primary contests.”

And Cruz did pick up Utah on Tuesday, though Trump won Arizona.

As as presidential candidate, Bush was the earliest target of Trump and also Trump's most vocal adversary as others — including Cruz and Rubio — took a hands off approach before joining the fight (too late, some Republicans contend).

“For the sake of our party and country, we must move to overcome the divisiveness and vulgarity Donald Trump has brought into the political arena, or we will certainly lose our chance to defeat the Democratic nominee and reverse President Obama’s failed policies,” Bush said. “To win, Republicans need to make this election about proposing solutions to the many challenges we face, and I believe that we should vote for Ted as he will do just that.”

Bush had criticized the first term senators in the field, arguing governors were more ready. But by passing over John Kasich, Bush appears to be doing simple delegate math.

In a statement, Cruz called Bush “an extraordinary governor of Florida, and his record of job creation and education innovation left a lasting legacy for millions of Floridians. His endorsement today is further evidence that Republicans are continuing to unite behind our campaign to nominate a proven conservative to defeat Hillary Clinton in November, take back the White House, and ensure a freer and more prosperous America for future generations."

- Alex Leary, Tampa Bay Times

March 16, 2016

PolitiFact Florida: Our most read fact-checks of Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush in 2016 GOP presidential race


What began as a battle between two Florida Republican politicians ended in a rout by New York billionaire Donald Trump Tuesday night when he slay the chance of any Floridian winning the GOP presidential nomination this year.

Marco Rubio lost the Florida primary by a landslide and suspended his campaign March 15. Weeks earlier, Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush dropped out after the South Carolina primary.

PolitiFact fact-checked several dozen statements by Bush and Rubio since they declared their candidacy in 2015. (Some fact-checks were completed before they announced.)

Keep reading here.

March 12, 2016

Jeb Bush backer says he told her he won't endorse anyone before Tuesday


Jeb Bush told a Miami backer Friday that he doesn't plan a Republican presidential endorsement before Florida's primary Tuesday.

Helen Aguirre Ferré, who campaigned extensively for Bush in Iowa while he was a candidate, told the Miami Herald she emailed the former Florida governor and got a response.

"I said, 'People are asking me what you are thinking of doing,' and I said, 'Are you going to endorse anyone?'" she said. "And he said he was not endorsing prior to Tuesday.

"He repeated it twice, that he was not endorsing prior to Tuesday. Does that mean a Tuesday morning endorsement? I don't know, you know. And what would that mean? And who would he be endorsing? I don't know."

Ferré stressed that the email exchange took place before GOP front-runner Donald Trump canceled a Friday night rally in Chicago, which was followed by raucous protests and condemnations from his remaining rivals.

Bush met separately earlier this week with Rubio, John Kasich and Ted Cruz while all three were in town for a debate at the University of Miami. None of the men have spoken publicly about what was discussed.



March 09, 2016

Jeb Bush to meet with former rivals


Jeb Bush is ready to inch back into the Republican presidential race.

He will meet with three of his remaining rivals — Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — ahead of their debate later that evening at the University of Miami. The Bush-Rubio meeting took place Wednesday; the others are scheduled for Thursday.

No surprise as to which man Bush won't sit down with: foe Donald Trump.

Bush has yet to endorse anyone since leaving the race last month after his lackluster showing in the South Carolina primary. Some Bush advisers wanted him to immediately back fellow Miamian Rubio. But Bush went home to Coral Gables instead, and has kept a low profile since.

The meetings could portend an effort to try to stop Trump, which was a Bush priority when he was a candidate.

March 08, 2016

Super PAC that backed Jeb Bush says it will refund $12M to donors

via @adamsmithtimes

Right to Rise, the super PAC political committee supporting Jeb Bush is preparing to refund about $12 million in unspent money to donors who gave at least $1,000. 

"We could not be more proud of Jeb, the campaign he ran, and the hopeful and optimistic message of conservative reform that he communicated throughout this primary for the Republican presidential nomination," CEO Mike Murphy and Finance Director Mason Fink wrote in a letter to donors received this week. "Because Governor Bush has suspected his campaign, Right to Rise USA is now proceeding with an orderly shutdown or activities. Once we have a comprehensive calculation of our remaining resources (including legal and FEC compliance reserves), we will distribute the contribution refunds to our donors on a pro rate basis."

Out of the nearly $119 million Right to Rise raised, a summary included with the letter says $89.8million on "voter contact" of all sorts, $5.98 million on fundraising costs, $3.77 million on polling and data analytics, and $1.17 million on research and political direction. 

It touts, "No open ended commissions. All vendor contracts included fee caps," though cynics about how the money was spent will note that contractors and vendors built their compensation directly into the prices they charged.

Of the TV advertising, Right to Rise says nearly 52 percent went for pro-Bush, nearly 15 percent for "oppose Trump ads," and 33.4 percent for "other candidate contrast ads," aka anti-Rubio, anti-Kasich, and anti-Christie ads.

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

February 24, 2016

Jeb Bush attributes loss to 'year of disruption'

via @learyreports

Jeb Bush just concluded a conference call with donors, thanking them for support and loyalty while attributing his loss to "a year of disruption" embodied in Donald Trump.

"I just didn't get the breakthrough I needed in the early states," an apologetic Bush said.

"From the very beginning to the end, I really saw the path to win the nomination in a way that would allow the next president to be a conservative, a reform-minded conservative. But as is always the case in life, there's all sorts of different kinds of outcomes based on the realities, and in this case, the reality was you had a year of disruption, a year of outsiders making a compelling case to people who are deeply disaffected and angry."

Bush said he was back in Coral Gables, sleeping at home and visiting the gym. He said he would work to back a "conservative" but did not mention a candidate.

"I've learned a lot in this process and enjoyed the campaign," Bush said, noting he felt news coverage did not match what he saw and focused on insults.

"For me, it was an incredible joy and an incredible honor and privilege to be a candidate for president," he said.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times