As Jeb Bush “actively explores” a presidential run in 2016, he opens the door to scrutiny of his family, his conservative views and – most importantly – his business relations since leaving the Florida governor’s office in 2007.
Between his entry into private equity and serving as an adviser at the British bank Barclays, Megan Murphy of the Financial Times reports that Bush’s move to boost his net worth is causing concern among GOP donors, who are still reeling from Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012.
Bush’s commencement speech in South Carolina this week, where he announced the formation of a leadership PAC, combined with his strong defense of his business dealings — and recent loss of 15 pounds – all give supporters the clearest indication yet of preparations for a presidential run.
In another hint that Bush is readying for the road to the White House, Barclays announced on Thursday that his role at the bank will end December 31.
Bush, as an adviser to Lehman Brothers before its collapse in the 2008 financial crisis, rarely speaks about his work at Barclays, which has seen its share of scandals in recent years, including manipulation of benchmark interest rates and the reckless sales of Payment Protection Insurance (PPI).
However, Bush’s departure could be linked to a much-discussed Bloomberg Businessweek article, which suggested his private equity ventures could be a burden in a prospective campaign, similar to the way multimillionaire Romney’s time at Bain Capital hobbled his candidacy.
Bush disputes the connection, saying that comparing his and Romney’s portfolios was like “an apple to a peanut,” Murphy writes.
“I think Mitt probably didn’t defend an incredible success story,” Bush told a Miami television station last week, “but that’s totally his deal.”