As he contemplates running for president, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has reportedly also been quietly building a portfolio of business interests that could be toxic in a national campaign. These investments have led some observers to doubt he’s serious about a potential 2016 White House bid.
According to a new report in Bloomberg Businessweek, Bush recently set up three funds, including a new offshore private equity fund that future rivals could portray as a tax shelter. Additonally, he has ties to foreign investments in China could also ding his political brand and make him vulnerable to attacks such as those Mitt Romney faced on his tax rate and private equity background during the 2012 presidential race.
His “flurry of ventures doesn’t suggest someone preparing to run for president, according to a dozen fund managers, lawyers, and private-placement agents who were apprised of his recent activities,” Businessweek’s Joshua Green wrote.
Green also spoke to political operatives who outlined the challenges Bush’s portfolio could pose for him.
“Running as the second coming of Mitt Romney is not a credential that’s going to play anywhere, with Republicans or Democrats,” GOP consultant John Brabender said. “Not only would this be problematic on the campaign trail, I think it also signals someone who isn’t seriously looking at the presidency or he wouldn’t have gone down this path.”
According to the report, records list Bush as chairman and manager of BH Global Aviation, which is incorporated in the United Kingdom and raised $US61 million in September. He’s also “chairman of a $US26 million fund, BH Logistics, established in April with backing from a Chinese conglomerate, and a $US40 million fund involved in shale oil exploration.”
It’s relatively uncommon for businessmen to raise millions of dollars only to quickly turn around and abandon his or her recent investors, as would likely be necessary to run a presidential campaign free of conflicts of interest. On the other hand, Bush has reportedly been laying the groundwork for a White House bid, including making “secret visits” to Wall Street donors.
Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell insisted to Businessweek his financial interests would not get in the way of his political ambitions.
“If Governor Bush were to become a candidate, he would certainly review all of his business engagements,” she said. “There is nothing related to Governor Bush’s business interests that would hinder a run for president in any way should that be his decision.”
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