BUSH WATCH: HOW BUSH REALLY MADE HIS MILLIONS.
While most Americans have become aware of Texas Governor George W. Bush during the past few years, political observers and reporters have been watching his rise to power for a much longer time. Here is an up-to-date, documented overview of how he amassed a fortune worth over $20 million today and the kinds of interactions he's had with relatives, friends, and business acquaintances to get his money. This page will be updated and further documented from time to time. --Politex, 1999, 2002
HOW BUSH REALLY MADE HIS MILLIONS. CNN's Brooks Jackson cuts to the chase and arrives at some telling conclusions about how George made his Bush bucks: "Bush started in the Texas oil business, after Yale
University and Harvard Business School. Wealthy
family friends and others invested millions with him,
but with poor results. A 1985 disclosure shows
Bush's track record: Investors got back only 45
cents on the dollar, but few complained.
Investors also got tax deductions averaging more
than 80 cents on every dollar invested. Those early
Bush ventures were mainly tax shelters." Everyone agrees that Dubya's baseball venture was his most successful business experience: "Bush takes credit for conceiving The Ballpark at
Arlington, home of the Texas Rangers baseball team,
which he bought in 1989 with a wealthy group of
investors. Among them: billionaire Richard Rainwater
of Fort Worth.
Bush invested just over $600,000, but Arlington
taxpayers invested a lot more.
'It was $135 million worth of sales tax money,' said
attorney Glenn Sodd. 'The city donated a good bit of
land to the project. They got a sales tax exemption
on all the items that were purchased for the stadium.
We have a property tax in Texas and they were
given as part of the deal a property tax exemption.'
A total of at least $200 million, according to Sodd."
So there you have it, "Bush the businessman did prosper. But not by his
bootstraps -- with help from wealthy friends and
taxpayer subsidies." Will George be smart enough to realize that pointing to such business "successes" as a presidential credential would be rubbing salt into the wounds of the average taxpayer? Politex, May 1999
HOW BUSH REALLY MADE HIS MILLIONS, PT. 2. What George does to make a Bush buck is called "Crony Capitalism" by commentatorJim Hightower. Case in point: Dubya's financial relationship with Richard Rainwater during his tenure as Texas governor. Rainwater's "a billionaire speculator and money manager who ranks among the wealthiest 100 Americans. It's well known that Rainwater has been a major financial backer of Bush's political career, but it's a little-known fact that he's also largely responsible for Bush's personal wealth. He's put Bush into various profitable deals, from oil and gas to real estate, but the big one was the Texas Rangers baseball franchise." Rainwater and Bush sold the baseball team to another Texas high roller and Bush campaign contributer, billionaire Tom Hicks. But their relationship didn't stop there. When Bush became Guv in '95, he put all but his Texas Rangers stock into a blind trust managed by--surprise--Rainwater. Hightower implies the financial relationship wasn't a one-way street: "Bush is nothing if not loyal to Rainwater, who has done very nicely while his pal has been governor. Among the favors Rainwater has enjoyed:
*State buildings sold to Rainwater's real estate company at bargain basement rates;
*State college and public school funds invested in Rainwater's company;
*A Bush-sponsored tax cut that failed, but would have cut millions in annual taxes for Rainwater; and
*A stadium-financing bill backed by Bush that gave a $10 million bonus payment to a Rainwater company." Politex, May 1999
HOW BUSH REALLY MADE HIS MILLIONS, PT. 3. Much of the information in parts 1 and 2 of this series can be traced back to a series of research pieces by R. G. Ratcliffe published last August in the Houston Chronicle. Ratcliffe reports that when George was asked to comment upon various state actions such as his administration's relationships with Rainwater, "Bush angrily denied any
collusion or conflicts of interest, saying, 'I didn't - I swear I didn't -
get into politics to feather my nest or feather my friends' nests.... Any
insinuation that I have used my office to help my friends is simply not
true.'" The Texas Observer's Michael King is intrigued by Bush's protestations of innocence: "While specific state
transactions might indeed be subject to conflict-of-interest inquiries, the
state policies Ratcliffe describes - privatization; regressive taxation;
state subsidies and tax abatements for corporations; the systematic use of
public resources for the benefit of private power - represent not a
conflict, but a confluence of interests, between the state's major business
entities and the politicians they support and underwrite. The fact that
among those entities are corporations and businessman with whom Bush
himself has done particular deals - well, that's not corruption, exactly.
It's just business as usual."
If nothing else, Ratcliffe concluded in his Houston Chronicle pieces, "a pattern emerges: When a Bush is in office, Bush's business associates benefit." King goes on in his Texas Observer story to furnish some examples of the social, political, and financial relationships between Bush and his associates: "The partners who helped Bush dig himself out of the oil patch
(William DeWitt and Mercer Reynolds of Spectrum 7) are among the investors
gathered into the group who made a bundle in the Texas Rangers deal.
(Another noteworthy Rangers investor was Fred Malek, once a campaign
manager for Bush's father, but most famous for dutifully fulfilling
President Richard Nixon's demand for a list of Jews then employed at the
Bureau of Labor Statistics.) Richard Rainwater and his partner Edward
"Rusty" Rose were also brought into the Texas Rangers deal, to a handsome
return, and under the Bush administration, their companies came to benefit
from the investment policies of the Teacher Retirement System, the
Permanent School Fund, and the Permanent University Fund. By the way, the
Permanent University Fund is managed by the University of Texas Investment
Management Company, whose chairman is Tom Hicks, now owner of the Texas
Rangers (purchased from the Bush partnership) - also a major Republican
donor and a member of the U.T. Board of Regents, whose chairman is Donald
Evans, treasurer of the Bush campaign.
Funny how things work out." Politex, May 1999
HOW BUSH REALLY MADE HIS MILLIONS, PT. 4. Tom Hicks, the investment banker to whom Bush and Rainwater sold the Texas Rangers, owns a vast sports and media empire and was George's biggest '98 campaign contributor. Bush had allowed him to head up a committee charged with "investing $1.7 billion of public university money in the form of investments in private companies." Unfortunately, according to R. G. Ratcliffe in a March 20 investigative article written in the Houston Chronicle, questions have recently been asked because "almost a third of the $1.7 billion has been committed to funds run by Hicks' business associates or friends (and).... five funds run by major Republican political donors." These questions have remained unanswered and Hicks has been unwilling to answer questions about his activities on the public's behalf.. "In the past three years, state auditors have criticized the secretive nature of (the Hicks committee's) investment decisions and have complained about the potential for conflicts of interest for board members." Recently, Hicks has decided to take on fewer responsibilities within the public university fund and the committee has promised to be more public in its financial activities, but has declined to provide explanations about past dealings, citing contractual agreements with the parties involved.
Writing about Dubya's career up to the sale of the Texas Rangers, Michael King observes, "A diligent prosecutor with subpoena power and a large staff
might well find evidence of specific crimes or corrupt practices by
investigating one or more of the above episodes. At a minimum, the Bush
biography should provoke the sort of public and press scrutiny that, thus
far, candidate Bush has avoided. In that distinction, he seems less like
his father and more like Ronald Reagan, another affable and apparently
inoffensive amateur who left the hard stuff to his aides and allies." However, King sees George's activities as Governor in a different but not less harsher light: "Taken as a whole, the Bush biography is not about
individual corruption but about class privilege, about the train that runs
on a comfortable track, with varying stops but the same destination....
Although by his own admission George W. was an indifferent student, he was
nevertheless the deserving-by-birth beneficiary of the oldest, most
illegitimate, and most sacrosanct form of affirmative action, one that will
not be subject to racially-tinged political debates about 'leveling the
playing field' or 'reverse discrimination.' It's just business as usual,
and therefore presumed invisible as privilege." But even more than Dad, to Dubya, with money comes privilege, and ideas such as "conflict-of-interest" and "corruption" do not appear to register on his radar. If they did, one would think he'd want to avoid even the appearance of questionable behavior. That's why he can get so angry and be so convincing when a reporter has the bad manners to bring up such questions. Politex, May 1999
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