Jeb Bush Counts on Short Memories

So not that very long ago, Jeb Bush’s aggressive and controversial business tactics, mostly focused on the politically perilous area of private equity management in conjunction with shadowy foreign partners, especially in China, convinced some observers he sure wasn’t acting like somebody planning a presidential campaign. Now there are signs that what Bush has been engaged in lately is the tail-end of a financial fattening-up period before the long hard winter of a campaign. Here’s how the L.A. Times‘ Joseph Tanfani puts it:

After leaving office in 2007, he set up Jeb Bush and Associates, a management consulting firm. His son, Jeb Bush Jr., serves as managing partner. Bush has said the firm’s clients range from Fortune 500 companies to small tech startups, but Campbell declined to discuss the company’s business or identify its clients.

That same year, Bush also was hired as an advisor to Lehman Brothers, the New York investment bank and financial services firm. When Lehman collapsed in bankruptcy in 2008 amid the global financial crisis, Bush shifted to Barclays, the London-based multinational banking and financial services giant that bought Lehman Brothers’ North American divisions.

He got involved in a venture that provides disaster response services. He and two partners also set up another company, Maghicle Driverless, that is trying to develop self-driving vehicles for passengers and cargo.

“He was grabbing at a lot of things to make money quickly,” said Susan MacManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida.

Now he appears to be trying to clean up his act now that he’s all sleek with wealth and ready to focus on a restoration of the family dynasty.

[Kristy] Campbell, the Bush spokeswoman, said he will leave Barclays by Dec. 31 to focus on a possible presidential run. She said his work for Lehman Brothers and Barclays was mostly offering clients “his perspective on the impact of economic trends, regulations and policies.”

Yeah, it’s a total coincidence Jeb associated himself with two of the world’s most recent examples of financial malfeasance. But that’s not the sort of thing Team Jeb is most worried about; it’s this:

[O]n Wednesday, Bush resigned from the board of directors of Tenet Healthcare Corp., also effective Dec. 31, according to a corporate filing. The Dallas-based company actively supported the 2010 Affordable Care Act, and has seen its revenue rise from it, an issue that could draw fire in Republican primaries.

Bush earned cash and stock awards worth nearly $300,000 from Tenet in 2013, according to corporate filings. He also sold Tenet stock worth $1.1 million that year, the records show.

Can’t be associating with Obamacare lovers, can he?

Jeb appears to hope his whole pattern of financial system bottom-feeding and door-opening for shadowy global interests will be forgotten once the campaign is underway. In that respect as in others, he is the appropriate representative of a Republican Establishment that views lack of wealth as the most unforgivable character flaw.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.