Responding to a report detailing Jeb Bush’s extensive ties to corporate lobbyists who had business before his administration, the former Florida governor’s presidential campaign issued a statement Wednesday saying it welcomes support from lobbyists. The statement comes about a week after Bush announced his Republican presidential campaign with a speech railing on lobbyists and asserting that he fought the influence-peddling culture in Tallahassee.
Asked specifically about Bush raising money from lobbyists seeking to shape state and federal legislation, his campaign issued a statement: “Governor Bush is pleased and encouraged to have support for his presidential campaign from a broad range of voters and donors who are helping share his message of expanding economic opportunity for all Americans with voters across the nation.”
On Tuesday, International Business Times reported on 75 email exchanges between Bush and lobbyists at the Southern Strategy Group. That firm’s clients had business before the governor’s administration, and the firm delivered more than $76,000 to the Florida Republican Party while Bush was in office. The IBTimes report detailed how Bush enlisted the firm’s lobbyists to help him write speeches, provided private glimpses of public policy to lobbyists and reversed his positions to support policies that helped their clients. In one emblematic email, Bush asks a lobbyist at the firm what his gubernatorial agenda should be.
“If you were governor, what would you be focusing on for the next two or three years?,” Bush wrote in August 2003 to lobbyist David Rancourt. “What initiatives do you think we should pursue? How do you think we should do it?”
Days after he gave his presidential announcement speech deriding lobbyists, Bush held a fundraiser with lobbyists in Washington, D.C. That was part of a larger series of Bush campaign fundraisers with Beltway influence-peddlers.
Lobbyist Al Cardenas, a former Florida Republican Party chairman and Bush supporter, told the Hill newspaper the candidate “understands that the lobbying world -- at its best -- is well-informed and educates policymakers.”