Barbara Bush and GOP Tradition: Funneling Charitable Donations into Their Own Pocketbooks
The Houston Chronicle, in an article on Thursday, wrote about Barbara Bush's donation to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, Former first lady's donation aids son:
Former first lady Barbara Bush donated an undisclosed amount of money to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund with specific instructions that the money be spent with an educational software company owned by her son Neil.In a follow up article on Friday, Katrina donation ignites debate,The Houston Chronicle reports on why the controversy has arisen:
Since then, the Ignite Learning program has been given to eight area schools that took in substantial numbers of Hurricane Katrina evacuees.
As Barbara Bush spent two hours championing her son's software company at a Houston middle school Thursday morning, a watchdog group questioned whether the former first lady should be allowed to channel a donation to Neil Bush's Ignite Learning company through Houston's Hurricane Katrina relief fund.Barbara isn't just helping her son, but is helping herself and putting money into her own purse because she one of the "investors" in Neil's
"It's strange that the former first lady would want to do this. If her son's having a rough time of it, couldn't she write him a check?" said Daniel Borochoff, founder of the American Institute of Philanthropy, a Chicago-based charity watchdog group. "Maybe she isn't aware that people could frown upon this."
Some critics said donations to a tax-deductible charitable fund shouldn't benefit the Bush family. Others questioned whether the Houston Independent School District violated district policy by allowing the company to host a promotional event on campus.
Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo sums it up this way:
So how is it exactly you get away with making a tax subsidized contribution that you stipulate must be used to purchase products from a company in which you are a partial owner?Paul Kiel at the TPM Muckraker is looking into Neil Bush's Investors:
Isn't that a scam of some sort?
The company declines to name private investors, but documents filed with the SEC show that it raised $7.1 million from 53 investors. There are a number of unnamed investors from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and the British Virgin Islands.Kiel has composed a list of known investors, including Neil's parents. Here are few from his list:
-- Hamza El Khouli, an associate of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and chairman of First Arabian Development and Investment Company (Lawrence Journal World)I wonder if the investors from the UAE and China have any connections with Dubai Ports World and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.
-- Mohammed Al Saddah of the Ultra Horizon Co. in Kuwait (Houston Chronicle).
-- Winston Wong (alternately, Winston Wang), a Taiwan businessman who started the Grace Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. with the eldest son of China's president, Jiang Zemin (Washington Post)
-- Boris Berezovky, a Russian billionaire living in London with ties to many Russian politicians, including Boris Yeltsin. He is sought by Russian prosecutors and Interpol for fraud (Moscow Times, Washington Post)
-- Knowledge Universe, a company chaired by former junk bond king Michael Milken (Philadelphia Inquirer, AP)
Just today, in the Washington Post, is another example of this GOP tradition, Former DeLay Aide Enriched By Nonprofit:
A top adviser to former House Whip Tom DeLay received more than a third of all the money collected by the U.S. Family Network, a nonprofit organization the adviser created to promote a pro-family political agenda in Congress, according to the group's accounting records.These must be GOP examples of "compassionate conservatives" and "family values".
DeLay's former chief of staff, Edwin A. Buckham, who helped create the group while still in DeLay's employ, and his wife, Wendy, were the principal beneficiaries of the group's $3.02 million in revenue, collecting payments totaling $1,022,729 during a five-year period ending in 2001, public and private records show.