Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Jeb Bush’s South Korean Sugar Daddy

The Republicans seeking to attack Hillary Clinton for her husband's speaking fees and alleged conflicts of interest may need to tread cautiously.  As noted before, Jeb "Jebbie" Bush may have problems of his own in this regard, including largess doled out by those benefiting form his idiot brother's failed regime.   Of particular note is Poongsan Corporation, and its CEO Jin Roy Ryu have been generous patrons of the Bush family over the years. In return, the company won more than $1 billion in contracts from Jebbie's brother’s presidential administration.  Politico looks at what it calls Jebbie's South Korean sugar daddy.  Here are highlights:

As he amassed wealth after leaving the governor’s office, Jeb Bush delivered 10 separate paid speeches to a South Korean metal company that won more than $1 billion in contracts from his brother’s presidential administration, according to disclosures released Tuesday.

The company, Poongsan Corporation, and its CEO Jin Roy Ryu have been generous patrons of the Bush family over the years, raising about $1 million for the presidential library of Bush’s father George H. W. Bush, while also helping to organize trips to South Korea for Jeb Bush and his presidential relatives.

The first speech was in 2007, just months before George W. Bush’s administration awarded Poongsan a coin-production contract with the U.S. Mint worth as much as $1 billion. Jeb Bush delivered nine more speeches between then and 2013, when he delivered two separate speeches to Poongsan..

Bush’s association with Poongsan dates back to the mid-1990s, when he was the president of his father’s presidential library foundation, where Ryu sits on the board of trustees.

Jeb Bush served as Florida governor from 1999 to 2007, after which he began giving paid speeches to Poongsan and other companies and non-profits during a period of rapid wealth accumulation.

His net worth mushroomed from $1.3 million to $19 million, according to tax returns and other documents released by Bush’s presidential campaign on Tuesday. The document release – which included a list of 277 speeches that paid a total of nearly $10 million – seemed intended partly to highlight Bush’s commitment to transparency and also to head off a damaging trickle of stories about his ties to controversial businesses.

But the documents also contain fodder for Bush’s critics, who have sought to cast him as a privileged scion of a political dynasty with little in common with middle-class voters. Democrats highlighted affiliations Bush’s allies would rather avoid – such as his work as an adviser for Lehman Brothers, which paid him $1.3 million a year before it went bankrupt and helped spur the financial crisis.

And, while the list of speeches does not contain precise dates or amounts for each speech, it does in some ways shed light on how Bush traded on the political clout that comes with being a former governor who is the son of one former president and the brother of an outgoing one.

Neither Jeb Bush’s campaign spokeswoman nor PMX representatives responded to questions about the speeches or the Bushes’ relationship with Poongsan or Ryu.

Overall, the company has received $1.6 billion in federal contracts, primarily from the U.S. Mint, but also from the U.S. Army.   In addition to coins, Poongsan manufactures ammunition, including land mines and cluster bombs that have run afoul of international human rights standards.

Perhaps those who live in glass houses - i.e., Jeb Bush - should be careful about casting stones.

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