Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s ties to foreign investors, particularly Chinese financiers, may complicate a presidential run for someone already under fire for his ties to crony capitalism and open-borders global elites.
According to a Bloomberg report, “Bush’s overseas funds, mysterious investors, and foreign entanglements” could come under intense scrutiny should he enter the 2016 primary field. The report claims that Jeb Bush could have a “Mitt Romney problem” in a potential 2016 campaign because of his many entanglements and would have trouble convincing regular Americans that he represents them instead of the so-called “Masters of the Universe.”
Though Bush never said he was “dead broke” after leaving the Florida’s governor’s mansion like Hillary Clinton said she was after leaving the White House, Bush, like the Clintons, tried to make up for lost time in the private sector.
Bush has launched at least three funds, according to the report. One of those funds–the $26-million BH Logistics–was “established in April with backing from a Chinese conglomerate.” The report notes that the Bush “family name has been a more propitious credential in China” for Jeb Bush. In 2011, Bush reportedly visited Hainan province and “praised Hainan’s environmental and economic development and spoke hopefully of establishing stronger ties between Hainan and Florida.”
“For the Chinese, the Bush name and the Bush connections to energy are a natural marriage,” the American Enterprise Institute’s Derek Scissors told Bloomberg. “They’re looking for political protection, and the Bush name legitimizes the investment and makes him a perfect partner.”
BH Global Aviation, another of Bush’s funds, “deepens his financial ties to China and Hainan.” The fund, according to SEC disclosures, is reportedly “controlled by Bush through a U.S. holding company” and 98% of its funding comes from “non-U.S. persons,” most of it appearing to come from Oak Tree, which is a company that “appears to house Bush’s foreign investors.”
Bush’s Chinese investors may not want the attention–and scrutiny–that would accompany a presidential run, and those in the private equity industry have said that Bush would be “winding down such businesses, rather than expanding them,” if Bush were planning a presidential run.
Bush’s domestic investments would also come under scrutiny during a potential campaign. An earlier report in The New York Times indicated that “Bush left public office seven years ago with a net worth of $1.3 million and an unapologetic determination to expand his wealth, telling friends that his finances had suffered during his time in government.” Bush, according to the report, tried to persuade Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim to help prop up Lehman Brothers during the 2008 financial crisis:
Within a year of departing the Statehouse, he had signed on as consultant to Lehman Brothers, where he was eventually enlisted to reach out to Mr. Slim in a plan code-named Project Verde. Mr. Slim, however, was not interested in making a major investment in Lehman Brothers or striking up a joint venture with it. “Project Verde was unsuccessful,” Mr. Bush wrote to a Lehman colleague in early July 2008.
Lehman executives talked openly about the value of Mr. Bush’s family connections in the midst of the crisis. Lehman’s chief executive, Richard S. Fuld Jr., discussed the possibility of having Mr. Bush ask his brother President Bush to persuade the British prime minister to allow Lehman’s emergency merger with a British bank, according to testimony from the company’s bankruptcy case. Mr. Fuld never followed through, and Mr. Bush did not call the president, a spokeswoman for him said.
Bush was also associated with a company, InnoVida, that went bankrupt, and accused of “insufficient oversight” at Swisher Hygiene, which lost three-quarters of its value. Bush allies like Al Cardenas indicated that if Bush decides to run for president, Bush would not be a “mini-Mitt” Romney” because “Jeb is not one to shy away from a political fight” and will “answer those attacks much more aggressively than Romney did” in 2012.