Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush may have given the clearest indication yet that he will run for president in 2016 when he said Monday that he will resign from the board of real estate investment trust Rayonier Inc., effective Wednesday. Bush, 61, son of former President George H.W. Bush and brother of former President George W. Bush, said earlier in December that he was “actively exploring” a run for the presidency in 2016 and would be forming a political committee in January.
The Securities and Exchange Commission report indicating Bush’s resignation was filed Monday, and first reported by Bloomberg. Bush will also be giving up his role as senior adviser at Barclay’s Plc and Tenet Healthcare, according to various media reports.
It’s thought that Bush is untangling his business interests in an attempt to deflect the sort of criticism that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney received in 2012 when he was described as a “vulture capitalist” by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who may run again in 2016.
It’s unclear if Bush will also distance himself from the investment group Britton Hill Holdings, where he is a co-founder. The group has a range of investments worth tens of millions of dollars.
Bush’s business dealings came under scrutiny while he was governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007. He has defended himself by saying his private equity dealings would help him if he was elected.
“I’m not ashamed,” he said in one interview. “I think taking risks and creating jobs is what we ought to have more of.”
Rayonier, a Jacksonville, Florida-based group, leases or manages around 2.5 million acres of forest in the U.S. and New Zealand, according to its website.