Two of the top donors to Jeb Bush’s Right to Rise super PAC have clear connections to Cuba and Iran, two areas of foreign policy where the presidential hopeful has marked a clear line of opposition between himself and President Barack Obama. Both donors have lived in the United States for decades and are part of a record-breaking campaign fundraising haul that topped $100 million for the pro-Bush group, according to an analysis of campaign finance data by the Guardian.
On Cuba, Bush has been one of the most vocal critics of Obama’s decision to reestablish diplomatic relationships after decades of silence between Havana and Washington. On the pending nuclear agreement with Iran, Bush has been critical as well, though he has stopped short of saying that he would reverse course on the agreement immediately after taking office, should he win.
One of the two donors is Iranian-American Hushang Ansary, Iran's ambassador to the U.S. for two years from 1967 to 1969 before the 1979 Iranian revolution. During the revolution, 52 American diplomats and private citizens were held hostage in Tehran for 444 days. Today, Ansary is a prominent businessman with deep ties to the Bush family, having served on President George W. Bush’s national finance committee of his reelection campaign and currently serving as a trustee on that president’s presidential library. Ansary was also a top contributor to a fund for commissioning and amenities of the U.S.S. George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier. Ansary, between himself and his wife, gave $2 million to the super PAC.
The other major donor is Mike Fernandez, a multibillionaire founder of the private equity firm MBF Healthcare Partners who immigrated to the United States in 1964. On July 2, Fernandez wrote an op-ed in the Miami Herald that called for the acceptance of restored diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, but he reserved his optimism towards Havana’s motives and said that he could not forget the brutality of the Cuban regime he had left. Fernandez gave $3 million through three contributions since March .
In March, before Bush officially announced his candidacy, he asked potential donors to cap their contributions to the super PAC at $1 million. An analysis of historical campaign finance data by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan nonprofit that compiles and analyzes campaign finance data, determined that a total of 475 individuals had given $1 million or more to campaigns since 1989. Right to Rise’s disclosures indicate that 19 individuals or corporations gave more than $1 million.
Super PACs have no contribution limits, a result of the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United. Every super PAC is required to disclose its donors publicly to the Federal Election Commission.