Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) is seeking to be the third President Bush, and his family legacy has provided him with not just political but also financial connections.
Bush’s presidential campaign and supportive PACs made headlines for raking in a combined total of about $120 million — more than double that of any of his Republican competitors — and the Bush name was incredibly helpful in raising those funds. A new analysis of Federal Elections Commission (FEC) records shows that more than half of Bush’s campaign war chest comes from donors who have previously donated to Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, or his brother, former President George W. Bush.
A nonpartisan political research company called Crowdpac.com analyzed FEC and state campaign finance records for the three Bushes, and found lots of overlap between the donor lists. “The finding puts a numerical exclamation point on the advantage Bush’s presidential family gives him when it comes to fundraising,” reported the AP.
Looking at named contributors to Bush’s official campaign committee, his Super PAC, and his leadership PAC, Crowdpac found that $59.2 million was donated by first-time Bush donors, and $60.3 million came from donors who had previously given to Bush’s father or brother.
Super PACs can take in unlimited funds, while Bush’s presidential campaign is limited to $2,700 or $5,400 per married couple. Federal records identify donors who have given at least $200 per election cycle, and state disclosure requirements vary.
The group also found that more than 1,800 Americans had donated to all three Bushes. These diehard Bush family loyalists are spread all over the country, although large numbers live in Texas, where Bush was born and where his father and brother began their political careers, and Florida, where Bush was a two-term governor.
One such donor, Dirk Van Dongen, president of the Washington-based National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, told the AP that there was a “huge” network of volunteer fundraisers who bundled contributions from friends and business associates that had supported the family’s campaigns.
“It is a vast network built over decades and it has grown even larger since Gov. Bush announced his candidacy,” said Van Dongen. “No other Republican candidate comes close to matching it.”
Crowdpac also looked at two other 2016 presidential candidates who are benefiting from their last names this election cycle: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
About 16 percent, or $9 million, of Clinton’s campaign contributions came from donors who had also given to her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
Paul’s father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), had a large, enthusiastic national network of supporters, and many of them are now helping his son. More than half of Paul’s nearly $9 million campaign and PAC funds came from people who had donated to his father, who ran for president himself in 2012.
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