Update, Feb. 20, 2016: Jeb Bush decided to suspend his campaign after a poor showing in the South Carolina primary.
Republican Jeb Bush is finally going to answer to “candidate.”
After months of playing a coy, will-he-or-won’t-he game over declaring a formal bid for the presidency, Bush is set to formally announce today.
Since December, when he said he would “actively explore” running, Bush has built a formidable operation that includes a roster of well-known campaign operatives, a super PAC named Right to Rise and an accompanying nonprofit group that will reportedly concentrate on policy.
His heavy involvement with these groups, which are legally prohibited from coordinating their expenditures with his official campaign committee once he is an official candidate, has earned him criticism from both the left and the right. Some campaign finance reform advocates have even urged the attorney general to appoint a special counsel to investigate whether Bush violated campaign finance laws, something he maintains he has not done.
To be sure, Bush, the son and brother of former presidents, has tapped his rich Rolodex over the past six months. Estimates of the amount he’s raised by his fledgling operation range as high as $100 million.
But despite the big war chest, though, the former Florida governor has had some high-profile stumbles, and his undeclared campaign went through a shakeup earlier this month.
Here’s more on Bush’s political and financial history:
- When Jeb Bush left office as Florida governor, he reported a net worth of about $1.3 million, according to his financial disclosures.
- As part of preparing for his presidential bid, Jeb Bush sold his share in businesses and stepped down from boards, including Barclays.
- Jeb Bush’s financial dealings since he left office are coming under scrutiny, especially whether he overlooked some obvious warning signs of fraud.
- The biggest donor to Bush’s gubernatorial campaigns — by a lot — was a political committee. The Florida Republican Party offered up $4.8 million.
- Bush raised a lot of money from small-dollar donors when running for Florida governor. Two thirds of his money came from donors giving $500 or less.
- Bush has been winning over Washington, D.C.’s donor class, including some of Mitt Romney’s biggest lobbyist bundlers.
- Among the lobbyists raising money for Jeb Bush: longtime National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors head Dirk Van Dongen and Lanny Griffith, an executive at lobbying firm BGR Group.
- When Jeb Bush decided to float a presidential bid, he spent a day at a Washington trade association’s offices, courting powerful lobbyist bundlers who have raised millions for Republicans.
- Some of Jeb Bush’s big-money backers reportedly include KKR’s Henry Kravis, Henry Kissinger and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson.
- Given that he wasn’t a candidate until today, Jeb Bush has a pretty full array of fundraising committees: a PAC, a super PAC — even a nonprofit.
- A watchdog group filed a complaint against Bush for violating campaign law by testing the presidential campaign waters without registering a campaign committee. A resolution to the case might come well after the 2016 election.
- Money given to Bush’s leadership PAC or super PAC won’t count against campaign limits — it means donors can give more now that he’s declared.
Sources: Center for Public Integrity reporting, as well as the Center for Responsive Politics, Miami Herald, Politico, Yahoo News and U.S. Senate.
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