Jun 24

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Jeb Bush’s Deep Love Affair with Lobbyists and Cronyism While Governor of Florida Exposed  (Liberty Blitzkrieg, June 24, 2015):

In September 2006, with real estate prices in free fall and panic seizing much of the state’s economy, Bush and state officials were debating the merits of a proposed $50 million purchase of forest and wetlands near Orlando, Florida, to protect it from possible future development. The land under consideration was called “Joshua Creek.” It was owned by a developer called Land South Hunters, which was itself an affiliate of Land South Holdings, a company that enjoyed the labors of a well-connected lobbyist in Tallahassee — Rancourt of the Southern Strategy Group.

Bush voiced concerns that the state was paying far too much at a time in which Florida real estate values were plummeting. “I get emotional when a guy a year ago bought something for $32 million and wants to sell it to us for $50 [million],” said Bush, according to minutes from the meeting. “The worm has turned on real estate prices. Every article in the paper, every paper is writing about it. And I just do not believe that we should necessarily be the purchaser that always shows up with the big number.”

After hearing from Bush, state officials opted to defer voting on land acquisition for two weeks. Rancourt then emailed Bush after the meeting seeking to get together to discuss the land deal.

“My purpose is not to make the case for any specific agreement but merely to ascertain if additional information would make it worthwhile to continue discussions on this piece of property,” Rancourt said. “I am happy to arrive alone or to have my client from Lakeland with me at the meeting if that would be beneficial. That is your call of course, as well as if you are interested in sitting down at all. I would appreciate the opportunity but will understand if you have made your decision.”

Bush responded later that night. “Thank you David. If we can schedule something, I am happy to meet,” he wrote. Bush said his aide would meet with Rancourt otherwise, and blind-copied two members of his staff on the email. Two weeks later, Bush and top state officials discussed the project again, with Land South Hunters’ owner and lawyer present.

“If we purchase this, you’re going to make a great profit without any development risk,” Bush told the lawyer, according to minutes of the meeting. “We’re buying it from you, and we don’t factor that into our appraisal. I think that’s just wrong.”

Those concerns notwithstanding, Bush and his cabinet voted to approve the terms of the deal. Not for the first time, Southern Strategy Group had appeared to deliver for its client.

– From IBT’s excellent article: As Florida Governor, Jeb Bush Provided Special Access to Lobbyists

The most disturbing part of the Clinton vs. Bush Presidential spectacle being shoved down the throats of the American public, is that you couldn’t find two more discredited, disingenuous, corruptible, self-interested political family dynasties if you tried. Naturally, this is exactly why the only people with political clout in the U.S., billionaire oligarchs and corporate executives, want these two clowns running against each other. Either way, they win.

While I’ve spent a great deal of time covering the cronyism and greed of Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush is cut from exactly the same cloth. One of the investigative journalists who has uncovered a lot of the dirt on Hillary, David Sirota of International Business Times, is now out with incontrovertible proof of how America would be governed under a third President Bush. How do we know? Well, because we have plenty of evidence of how he handled things for eight years as governor of Florida.

In his article, As Florida Governor, Jeb Bush Provided Special Access to Lobbyists, Mr. Sirota examines the incestuous relationship between Jeb and a lobbying firm called the Southern Strategy Group. How close is Jeb to this firm? For starters, we learn that:

As Bush presses his run for the White House, he is being closely advised by Sally Bradshaw, his former chief of staff when he was Florida governor. Sally Bradshaw is the wife of Paul Bradshaw, who founded the Southern Strategy Group. One of the firm’s lobbyists is reportedly raising money for Bush’s 2016 run.

The above becomes much more interesting when you see how much Southern Strategy was able to “earn” for its clients by leveraging its extremely intimate relationship with the governor.

From IBT:

Jeb Bush had just completed his successful campaign for re-election and now confronted a second term as governor of Florida. Seeking to shape his immediate agenda, he solicited advice from one of his most trusted advisors: David Rancourt, his former deputy chief of staff, who had since become a corporate lobbyist at one of the most powerful firms in the state, the Southern Strategy Group.

“If you were governor, what would you be focusing on for the next two or three years,” Bush wrote Rancourt in an email dated Aug. 13, 2003. “What initiatives do you think we should pursue? How do you think we should do it?”

Makes you wonder, who is actually governor here?

Two days after sending that note, Bush effectively delivered on one of Southern Strategy Group’s key aims: He signed legislation limiting the dollar value of damages that hospitals and insurance companies could be forced to pay to resolve instances of medical malpractice. The Florida Supreme Court would eventually overturn the bill, arguing that it effectively punished victims of mistreatment in hospitals. But at least for the moment, the governor’s signature handed a victory to Rancourt’s firm, which represented a major association of hospitals. It added to the cachet of the Southern Strategy Group, whose leadership was drawn heavily from the ranks of former Bush staff members and trusted associates.

When Jeb Bush formally announced his campaign for the White House last week, his speech included a prominent denunciation of lobbyists and the fashion in which they enable well-connected insiders to pull the levers of power at the expense of the public. He vowed to avoid “the culture that has made lobbying the premier growth industry in the nation’s capital,” a mode he claimed to have fought relentlessly in Florida. “I was a governor who refused to accept that as the normal or right way of conducting the people’s business,” he said.

According to IBTimes’ review of email correspondence between Jeb Bush, his top aides and Southern Strategy Group lobbyists, the firm frequently engineered meetings with the governor for its clients. A lobbyist at the firm helped write two of his major speeches. In some instances, Bush sought the direct input of Southern Strategy lobbyists as he crafted his legislative agenda, and he gave them private glimpses of public policy as they represented the corporate interests that had a financial stake in his decisions.

Bush’s campaign and Southern Strategy Group did not respond to questions from IBTimes about the propriety of their relationship. 

Ron Book, a top Tallahassee lobbyist, said he was “taken by surprise” by Bush’s depiction of himself as a crusader against the lobbying industry. When Bush was governor, “I never felt like I didn’t get an opportunity to make my case on behalf of my clients,” Book told IBTimes. “I never felt like he shut us out.” 

Just priceless.

Though Bush has been criticizing what he calls “swarms of lobbyists” that dominate politics, he has tapped lobbyists aggressively for campaign contributions. Florida records show that he raised $1.1 million from lawyers and lobbyists for his gubernatorial campaigns. Bush also approved a plan to marshal corporate lobbyists to push a bill exempting financial firms from the state’s open records laws.

As Bush presses his run for the White House, he is being closely advised by Sally Bradshaw, his former chief of staff when he was Florida governor. Sally Bradshaw is the wife of Paul Bradshaw, who founded the Southern Strategy Group. One of the firm’s lobbyists is reportedly raising money for Bush’s 2016 run.

Here’s one example of Bush helping pad the pockets of a friend who would subsequently become a Southern Strategy Group client:

In 2002, Paul Bradshaw retained Thrasher to help out his friend at a company called Infinity Software. Employees there were worried that the Bush administration might end its contract overseeing a website for the Florida Department of Education, according to an email.

Infinity appeared to enjoy especially close dealings with state leaders. Months earlier, the company had sought to hire Bush’s daughter.

Paul Bradshaw emailed Bush directly seeking reassurance that the contract would be preserved. Bradshaw explained that Infinity was no longer a paying client of the Southern Strategy Group. Still, he added, “I remain personal friends with Tom Lynch,” the Infinity CEO, “and he asked me as a favor to check on the status of his contract with DOE.”

Bush was already one step ahead of Bradshaw. Three days before, he had defended the company to Jim Horne, his appointee at the state’s department of education. Infinity’s contract was ultimately preserved. Two years later, Southern Strategy had secured a new paying client: Infinity Software.

Now here’s Jebbie handsomely rewarding another Southern Strategy client.

According to state records, Southern Strategy’s legislative specialist, Thrasher, began lobbying that year for the Florida Hospital Association, whose members had a direct financial stake in limiting the size of malpractice awards. Emails show that Thrasher and Bush were in direct communication about the best strategy for gaining the necessary votes on the bill.

Two months later in May, Thrasher updated Bush on efforts in the legislature. Thrasher recommended Bush call a special legislative session to focus on medical malpractice, once a budget was passed. Thrasher told Bush the special session “gives you the maximum leverage.”

Bush convened a special session the following month — the first of three that would be focused on capping payouts in medical malpractice cases. That August, Florida lawmakers passed the bill that Bush signed, setting a $500,000 limit on jury awards for damages such as pain and suffering in most medical malpractice cases.

Last year, the Florida Supreme Court struck down the law, portraying it as a giveaway to the insurance industry.

“The cap on noneconomic damages serves no purpose other than to arbitrarily punish the most grievously injured or their surviving family members,” the court declared.

Actually this is wrong. It serves the bank account of a Southern Strategy Group client.

Finally, we learn about a crony real estate deal in the early days of the housing collapse. A deal that even Jeb described as: “If we purchase this, you’re going to make a great profit without any development risk.”

He did it anyway.

In September 2006, with real estate prices in free fall and panic seizing much of the state’s economy, Bush and state officials were debating the merits of a proposed $50 million purchase of forest and wetlands near Orlando, Florida, to protect it from possible future development. The land under consideration was called “Joshua Creek.” It was owned by a developer called Land South Hunters, which was itself an affiliate of Land South Holdings, a company that enjoyed the labors of a well-connected lobbyist in Tallahassee — Rancourt of the Southern Strategy Group.

Bush voiced concerns that the state was paying far too much at a time in which Florida real estate values were plummeting. “I get emotional when a guy a year ago bought something for $32 million and wants to sell it to us for $50 [million],” said Bush, according to minutes from the meeting. “The worm has turned on real estate prices. Every article in the paper, every paper is writing about it. And I just do not believe that we should necessarily be the purchaser that always shows up with the big number.”

After hearing from Bush, state officials opted to defer voting on land acquisition for two weeks. Rancourt then emailed Bush after the meeting seeking to get together to discuss the land deal.

“My purpose is not to make the case for any specific agreement but merely to ascertain if additional information would make it worthwhile to continue discussions on this piece of property,” Rancourt said. “I am happy to arrive alone or to have my client from Lakeland with me at the meeting if that would be beneficial. That is your call of course, as well as if you are interested in sitting down at all. I would appreciate the opportunity but will understand if you have made your decision.”

Bush responded later that night. “Thank you David. If we can schedule something, I am happy to meet,” he wrote. Bush said his aide would meet with Rancourt otherwise, and blind-copied two members of his staff on the email. Two weeks later, Bush and top state officials discussed the project again, with Land South Hunters’ owner and lawyer present.

“If we purchase this, you’re going to make a great profit without any development risk,” Bush told the lawyer, according to minutes of the meeting. “We’re buying it from you, and we don’t factor that into our appraisal. I think that’s just wrong.”

Those concerns notwithstanding, Bush and his cabinet voted to approve the terms of the deal. Not for the first time, Southern Strategy Group had appeared to deliver for its client.

The above excepts represent only a portion of the crony deals highlighted by IBT. I suggest reading the entire article for more.

Meanwhile, this is what David Sirota tweeted regarding a response from the Bush team:

I mean, that pretty much tells you all you need to know.Meanwhile, here’s what I’d like to see for 2016:

For related articles, see:Poor Jeb Bush – Poll Numbers Plunge in Home State of Florida and Remain Dismal in Ohio and Pennsylvania

Jeb Bush Doubles Down on His Love Affair with the NSA in Recent Interview

An Oligarch Dilemma – Recent Poll Shows 42% of Republican Primary Voters Couldn’t Support Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush Forced to Bus Supporters From Washington D.C. to CPAC as Attendees Walk Out On Him

Jeb Bush Exposed Part 1 – His Top Advisors Will Be the Architects of His Brother’s Iraq War

Jeb Bush Exposed Part 2 – He Thinks Unconstitutional NSA Spying is “Hugely Important”

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

Bush-family-tree-dees

Hillary-corrupt

Hillary Clinton Exposed Part 2 – Clinton Foundation Took Millions From Countries That Also Fund ISIS

 

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