Jeb Bush has sold his stakes in his two remaining business commitments, his spokeswoman said Wednesday, another strong signal that the former Florida governor will embark on a campaign for president.
"This was a natural step as Gov. Bush transitioned his time and focus from running his business to increasing his political efforts on behalf of conservative candidates and causes," Kristy Campbell, his spokeswoman, said in a statement.
In one of the transactions, Bush completed the sale of his share of Jeb Bush and Associates to his son, Jeb Bush Jr., who was his partner in the consulting firm. In the other, he stepped down as chairman of the Britton Hill entities, private investment and advisory firms, selling his interests to an associate.
Those moves follow his resignation late last year from the boards of Tenet Healthcare and Rayonier, a timberland and real estate concern. Last year, he also ended his work for Barclays, where, as a consultant to the London-based bank, he was making more than $1 million a year. Around the same time, Bush relinquished positions with two educational endeavors, including the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which he founded.
As Bush embarks on a likely campaign, his portfolio of recent business enterprises will be closely examined. In the past, political opponents have raised the notion that Bush, a son and brother of former presidents, gained advantages because of his famous family.
In the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney's Republican competitors as well as Democrats made the business record of Romney, the eventual Republican nominee, a major issue.
When Bush left the Florida governor's office after two terms in 2007, he had a net worth of about $1.3 million - and confided in friends a desire to build his personal wealth, which he could not do as a public servant.
In the years since, he has been a regular paid speaker while also compiling a sizable portfolio of board appointments and business partnerships.
In 2007, Bush and his son started Jeb Bush and Associates, organizing it as an advisory firm that provided counsel to a range of companies. The former governor's consulting work included engagements with two doomed businesses, which have drawn scrutiny.
In one case, Bush served as a paid consultant to and on the board of a building materials manufacturer, InnoVida, which went bankrupt and saw its founder sent to prison. In another, he worked as an adviser to Lehman Brothers, engaging in far-flung efforts to save the bank during the financial crisis.
Separately, Bush and associates formed the Britton Hill entities, which through an investment arm have had positions in energy, logistics and real estate. The entities had $123.3 million in assets, according to their most recent regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Bush was chairman of the entities, a role that will be assumed by George B. Huber, an investor and associate, as well as the founder of Equity Investment Group, a separate firm.
"I have enjoyed the experience of starting and building a business with my talented partners," Bush said in a statement Wednesday. "George will be a valuable addition to the Britton Hill team, and I wish them all the best."
Bush did not disclose the sale price of either business commitment Wednesday. If he decides to move forward with a presidential campaign, he will be subject to extensive disclosure requirements relating to his investments and recent ventures.
The sales, though, free Bush from having a direct role in the daily operations of what were relatively small firms, where investments could raise concerns about conflicts of interest.
Alaska Dispatch Publishing