The recent release of undercover videos that appear to show Planned Parenthood executives engaging in the sale of aborted body parts has put the Jeb Bush Presidential campaign on the defensive.
Before becoming a GOP candidate Bush was serving as a director of Bloomberg Philanthropies, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s non-profit, in March 2014 when it announced a $50 million partnership with Planned Parenthood in Africa.
At issue is whether Bush was aware of the initiative and if he exercised his fiduciary responsibility as one of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ directors to provide “advice and oversight” to the foundation’s management team prior to the decision to spend $50 million on the program.
“As a board member of Bloomberg Philanthropies, Governor Bush did not vote on or approve individual projects or programs. Governor Bush and Mayor Bloomberg disagree on several policy areas, including Planned Parenthood. They do share a passion for reforming education, which was Governor Bush’s focus on the board,” Jeb Bush campaign spokeswoman Kristy Campbell tells Breitbart News. That echos the themes — and some of the exact words — she first used in April when interviewed by the Tampa Bay Times on Bush’s role in the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ $50 million partnership in Africa with Planned Parenthood.
Governor Bush’s strong record of fostering a culture of life is clear, and he has called on Congress to investigate and defund Planned Parenthood in light of the recent alarming revelations about its practices. During his eight years in office, Governor Bush took measures to protect innocent life by passing a partial-birth abortion ban, fighting for a constitutional amendment requiring parental notifications and doing everything possible to promote adoption.
Even for a charity as wealthy as Bloomberg Philanthropies, whose 2013 endowment was $5.4 billion, an expenditure of $50 million over several years is a substantial portion of the estimated $200 million in grants it disburses annually. In 2013, it disbursed $204 million in grants. Data is not yet available for 2014.
When news that Bush was one of the Bloomberg Family Foundation’s nineteen founding directors from the charity’s formation in 2010 until the end of 2014 (by which time the name had been changed to Bloomberg Philanthropies) was first brought to the public’s attention in April 2015 by the Tampa Bay Times, the Bush campaign tried to minimize Bush’s involvement with the Planned Parenthood decision.
But a Lifesite News article on Thursday resurrected the issue, which, in light of the release of the undercover videos, has become politically radioactive.
Last week, Bush called for a Congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood.
“I’m confirming that yes, we have a maternal and reproductive health program. We support work in countries in Latin America and Africa to prevent maternal deaths and work with partners including Planned Parenthood Global. In regards to Mr. Bush’s involvement, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ board members do not vote on individual initiatives or program spends,” Rebecca Carriero, a spokesperson for Bloomberg Philanthropies tells Breitbart News.
But pro-life activists are not impressed with the explanations offered by either the Bush campaign team or Bloomberg Philanthropies.
“Abortion and association with Planned Parenthood, the largest promoter and provider of abortions, will be front and center in the upcoming election,” Susan Allen, a pro-life activist, speaker and writer from Tennessee, tells Breitbart News.
“The pro-life community is adept at cutting through rhetoric and euphemisms very quickly,” Allen says.
“Governor Bush needs to answer why he would allow his name and influence to be added to a board who would donate $50 million dollars to this organization to export the culture of death to developing nations,” Allen adds.
Breitbart attempted to obtain more detailed answers from the Bush campaign, but did not receive a response to these specific questions:
(1) Was Governor Bush aware of the $50 million partnership with Planned Parenthood before it was announced in March 2014?
(2) If so, did he offer any advice to the CEO and/or Mr. Bloomberg as to the appropriateness of the project?
(3) If so, what was that advice?
Lacking any comment from the Bush campaign or Bloomberg Philanthropies to the contrary, it is fair to assume that as a director with clearly delineated fiduciary responsibilities, Bush was well aware of the $50 million Planned Parenthood initiative and did nothing to stand in its way, even if he was not asked to vote to approve the initiative.
According to press reports, Bush was paid $37,100 in director fees during his five years of service to the Bloomberg Family Foundation.
The current list of directors, which now numbers twenty-one, is a “Who’s Who” of establishment figures. It includes two Republican establishment figures well known to Bush: former Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson, who oversaw the bank bailout approved by his brother, former President George W. Bush, in the fall of 2008, and former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The involvement of Bloomberg Philanthropies with Planned Parenthood on Jeb Bush’s watch is not the only problematic partnership that may cause Bush political troubles. The Bloomberg Philanthropies website also proudly notes a partnership with the Open Society Foundations, which is funded by far-left billionaire George Soros.
At the heart of the political problem for Bush is that he has a long-running professional and business relationship with a billionaire who espouses a political philosophy that is the exact opposite of the conservative limited government philosophy Bush is attempting to persuade Republicans he holds.
Bloomberg’s stated philosophy on the role of philanthropy and government, which he articulated in his 2014 “Annual Letter on Philanthropy” is exactly the sort of elitist statism abhorred by the Republican base:
Modern philanthropy began as a substitute for government. Where government failed, philanthropists stepped in, providing food for the poor, hospitals for the sick, and libraries, museums, and colleges for the masses. Philanthropy continues to play a vital role in all of these areas. But some still see philanthropy as an alternative to government. I see it as a way to embolden government.
In so many areas, governments represent our best hope for making the broad-based societal changes that philanthropic organizations are devoted to bringing about. Governments have the authority to drive change in ways that philanthropic organizations cannot. By leveraging our resources, and forming partnerships with government, philanthropic organizations can help push those changes forward. That mindset may be untraditional, but it is at the heart of nearly everything Bloomberg Philanthropies does.
Breitbart News asked the Bush campaign if Governor Bush agrees with Mike Bloomberg’s stated philosophy on the role of philanthropy and government, and if he does not, why he agreed to serve on the board of the Bloomberg Family Foundation from 2010 to 2014.
The Bush campaign has not yet responded to those questions either.
If Jeb Bush wants to win the Republican nomination for President, he’s going to have to start providing satisfactory answers to these questions.