Bush Family Hustle

by David E. Scheim

“What you’ve got with Bush [George senior] is absolutely the largest number of siblings and children involved in what looks like a never-ending hustle.”

-Republican pundit Kevin Phillips

While opportunism isn’t new in U.S. politics, never did so many in one family extract so many dollars from taxpayers as when George Bush senior was president a decade ago. As documented below from impeccable cited sources, the exploits of six Bushes, including George W., range from stock sales that were probed or sanctioned to arranging U.S. business investments for a Japanese Mob front. They range from lobbying for a Mafia-linked businessman that enabled massive Medicare fraud to misconduct that helped trigger S&L collapses costing taxpayers $1.2 billion.

It was thus not entirely coincidental that under Bush senior in 1992, U.S. taxpayers faced a $500 billion S&L bailout and the largest ever budget deficit, $290 billion. This contrasts with the largest surpluses ever under Clinton-Gore. George W. Bush asks for trust, yet his evasions about his own dealings and recent campaigning with brother Jeb immerse him within a family financial scandal of alarming scope.

NEIL BUSH (George W’s brother) was a principal in the 1988 collapse of Silverado Banking in Denver, which cost taxpayers $1 billion. Neil approved $132 million in unrepaid loans from Silverado to two business partners, who in turn arranged payments to Neil totaling $650,000.

JEB BUSH (George W’s brother) and a partner defaulted on a $4.5 million loan from a Florida S&L in 1988. The default helped trigger the S&L’s collapse, which cost taxpayers $285 million. Bush and partner repaid only ten percent of the irregular loan and, incredibly, also got to keep the real estate that collateralized it.

In 1985, Jeb lobbied the federal government on behalf of Miami HMO owner Miguel Recarey to increase Recarey’s Medicare business ultimately to a total of $1 billion. The following year, Jeb received $75,000 from Recarey. Recarey, who had longstanding business ties to the late Florida Mafia boss Santos Trafficante, subsequently fled the U.S. under indictment, suspected of up to $100 million in Medicare fraud.

GEORGE W. BUSH. On June 20, 1990, Bush, a director of Harken Energy, sold the bulk of his Harken stock for $848,000. A week later, the stock plummeted in value on news of a large quarterly loss. Bush claimed that he had submitted a required report about the stock sale but it had somehow disappeared. Bush refused repeated requests from both The Wall Street Journal and U.S. News and World Reports to discuss the stock sale.

A federal (SEC) probe of Bush’s stock sale terminated without charging or exonerating Bush. But as Time reported, it was widely assumed that insider knowledge prompted the sale. The Wall Street Journal reported other suspicious circumstances concerning Bush’s involvement with Harken Energy.

Throughout his business career, George W. was bailed out by influential contacts for plays, as The Wall Street Journal put it, that “did not quite make the grade.” An example was a 1989 baseball deal financed in part “out of respect for his father” that ultimately earned George W. $15 million on a $600,000 investment. Such financial windfalls were important for Bush, who, as Newsweek summarized, “was an academic slacker [at Yale], a mediocre athlete, a member of the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War and an unsuccessful oilman.”

GEORGE BUSH, SENIOR. The late Jonathan Kwitny, an award winning journalist for PBS and The Wall Street Journal, detailed links of George Bush senior to S&L fraud beneficiaries nationwide. Under Bush, Kwitny reported, “investigations were called off, proposed fraud charges weren’t brought, and President Bush continued to pal around with investigative targets who got off scot-free.” Among Bush’s several pals in the S&L bonanza crowd named by Kwitny was Joe Russo, who owned one failed S&L and defaulted on multimillion-dollar loans from five others. Details Disbanding the strike forces against organized crime.

JONATHAN BUSH. In 1991, George senior’s brother Jonathan was fined $30,000 in Massachusetts and $4,000 in Connecticut for violating registration laws governing securities sales. Jonathan was barred from securities brokerage with the general public in Massachusetts for one year.

PRESCOTT BUSH. In 1989, Prescott Bush, a brother of George senior, arranged investments by a Japanese Mob front company in two U.S. firms, for which he was paid $500,000. The underworld front ultimately gained a controlling interest in both U.S. firms, and both subsequently filed for bankruptcy.18 Bush denied knowledge of the underworld’s role in these deals, which came under investigation by Japanese police and in the U.S.

George W’s talk of integrity and plans for privatized social security appear to be somewhat of a hustle considering this Bush family record and what happened to the S&Ls during his father’s presidency. George W. may have trouble convincing U.S. voters to reinstate Bush family ethics and economics as national policy.

David E. Scheim, PhD, is the author of the 1989 New York Times bestseller, Contract on America. He is a retired commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service.