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Eye On Candidates
April 17, 2015

Jeb Bush’s Business Dealings Scrutinized

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush had what most conservatives would likely regard as a successful two-term stint in office. But Bush was engaged in a variety of business ventures before first running for office, and that history could come back to haunt him. The New York Times explains:

For Jeb Bush the Businessman, Some Deals Brought Grief

...As a businessman and a son of the president, Jeb Bush became a sought-after partner for South Florida entrepreneurs in the 1980s and ’90s. His name, it seemed, could open doors and provide access, whether in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, or in Washington. But not all the ventures were successful and some of them proved controversial, enmeshing him in lawsuits and bad publicity.

Mr. Bush’s association with the M.W.I. Corporation, a Florida company that makes water pumps, was emblematic of that period. The company eventually closed a deal with several state governments in Nigeria in a purchase financed ultimately with $74 million in loans from the Export-Import Bank of the United States. But the Justice Department would later sue, claiming that Mr. Bush’s partners hid commissions of roughly $25 million to a Nigerian middleman. Though Mr. Bush denied making money on the deal, his association with M.W.I. resulted in questions that have endured for over two decades, with Mr. Bush once telling a reporter the association brought “unmitigated grief.”

Except for two terms as governor of Florida, Mr. Bush, 62, has spent his career as a businessman and entrepreneur who made a string of successful real estate investments. That experience is a point of pride as well as a major selling point as he considers becoming a candidate for president. It has also resulted in scrutiny of some of his recent dealings, such as his membership, starting in 2007, on the board of InnoVida, a bankrupt manufacturer of building materials, whose founder went to jail after defrauding investors...

Bush has addressed these issues before, of course, and they didn't seem to bother voters in Florida enough to keep him from office. But the presidential campaign is a much bigger stage with a much higher degree of scrutiny, and his past business dealings are sure to be a focus point for his critics during the 2016 campaign.