Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Jeb Bush loyalists play the insider game: Exhibit A, the predictable story of Tony Campos ... by gimleteye

Jeb Bush's large donors, the ones who poured more than $100 million into the Right To Rise superPAC, have many reasons to worry about their choice, thanks to Donald Trump's ability to upset a carefully planned campaign. Last week, Bush was forced -- by Trump's big lead in polls among likely Republican primary voters -- to change gears. Instead of the "joyful" campaign he promised, Jeb has begun to lash out at Trump.

The bigger problem for Jeb is not Donald Trump. It is how to balance his claim to be a "healer" in Washington, when his record as governor of Florida shows leadership that depended on divide and conquer of weaker, much weaker, political adversaries. To those, Jeb was spiteful and mean-spirited.

"His style is my way or the highway," said former Florida House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, a Republican who supported most of Bush's agenda but is undecided for 2016. "The whole time I worked with him, he never listened to me or anybody else in the process. If Mitch McConnell and John Boehner think they're going to have a great relationship with President Jeb Bush, they better watch out."

Former Republican state Sen. Nancy Argenziano, who several times opposed pieces of Bush's agenda, recalled little appetite for compromise or negotiation from the governor: "If you don't agree with him on something, there is no making it better. It's my way or hit the highway." ("Jeb Bush touts consensus-builder style, but many point to discordant Florida Record", Tampa Bay Times, August 28, 2015)

Running against his (Jeb's) own record is going to prove significantly more difficult than running against Donald Trump. For example, Bush is now attacking Trump as a closet Democrat, whereas he -- Jeb! -- is the conservative's
man to elevate the people.

It is a lame, "low energy" message because it is a message that is contradicted by Jeb's record.

Over Labor Day weekend, the New York Times ran an extraordinary story, "Bush, Family Ties and a Museum That Never Materialized" (Sept. 6, 2015) The gist of the story involves Tony Campos, a Cuban immigrant who finagled his way into the Bush political family, and once he had taken root, ended up scamming the government through a non-profit he had formed to honor Jeb Bush's grandmother.

"Mr. Bush was never connected to any wrongdoing, though now, as he seeks to become the third Bush to occupy the White House, his involvement in the little-known episode is a cautionary tale about the downside of the vast network of friends and supporters that has been an essential part of the family’s decades of political success."

So how did Tony Campos defraud Florida of $1.2 million? The New York Times reports, "... while Mr. Bush never explicitly endorsed using state money for the project, he did not stop the funding, either. Instead, a grant manager for the state told investigators, the message from supervisors was: “Whatever Campos wants, make sure he gets it, because he could cause them a lot of problems and was politically connected to the right people."

Today Jeb Bush tries to backtrack towards Reagan political guru, the late Lee Atwater, who summoned voters to the "big GOP tent". That's impossible when the record of Jeb Bush shows inside the big tent was a smaller tent, and that is where all the loyalists went to get their marching orders. Once you were on the inside, you were "good to go"; that is to say, commandeer government services for personal gain.

Tony Campos was a small fish, but if you were a non-profit during the Bush terms as Florida governor you could write grants from here to eternity with zip to show for the effort unless you had the VIP pass to the Bush family tent.

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