Posted Thursday, July 24th 2014 @ 9am Â byÂ Patricia Murphy
Mitt Romneyâs career as a private equity manager and expert âturnaround artistâ was supposed to be a big asset in the 2012 election. Instead, it opened him up to attacks during both the general election and the Republican primary, with rivals like Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry portraying the former Bain Capital CEO as a âvulture capitalistâ who laid off workers and picked companiesâ bones clean.
So, if Jeb Bush is really considering a White House run in 2016, why is he in the private equity business now?
As other 2016 hopefulsÂ go on book tours, shove themselves into theÂ news cycle, and show up inÂ early states,Â SECÂ filingsÂ reveal that Bush has quietly been working since at least 2013 as the chairman of Britton Holdings, LLC, a private equity firm based in Florida. The SEC disclosure filed last month is required once a firm has more than $100 million under management.Â For comparisonâs sake, Romneyâs Bain had more than $70 billion under management.
A recentÂ Bloomberg reportÂ on both the SEC filings and Bushâs work with Britton Holdings is full of details youâd rather not have to explain as a Republican presidential candidate, particularly in a cycle when economic populism has gripped the GOP base. ConservativeÂ confabsÂ now feature Ted Cruz slamming âthe rich and powerful,â while Rand Paul warns of the folly of being the party of âfat cats, rich people, and Wall Street.â
While Cruz and Paul hammer Wall Street and rich guys, Bushâs partners in Britton Holdings include a former banker from the now-defunct Lehman Brothers, the high-flying Wall Street bank that collapsed just before the bailouts of 2008, as well as two former advisers to Credit Suisse.Â Among its investments,Â Britton Holdings is focusing some on shale oil and gas exploration, including the controversial practice of fracking.Â A major backer for one Britton Holdings investment is a Chinese conglomerate active in the energy sector.
Those donât seem like the choices of a man preparing to face the microscopic scrutiny of a presidential campaign, but Steve Scheffler, a Republican National Committeeman for the Iowa GOP, doesnât consider Bushâs private equity play a deal breaker for Iowa conservatives in 2016.
âI think itâs a non-issue.Â The only people making a big deal about it are Democrats and the media.Â When a Democrat with money runs, you never hear a word about it,â Scheffler told The Daily Beast.Â The bigger problem for Bush in Iowa, he said, will be Bushâs shifting position on immigration, whichÂ may or may not includeÂ a path to citizenship, and the fact that Bush hasnât been making the rounds though the state the way Paul, Cruz, and other possible candidates have. âBut as long as he gets in front of the other issue, the private equity, I donât think it would be a problem.â
More articles from The Daily Beast:
- The GOPâs Last Identity Crisis Remade U.S. Politics
- You Donât Hate Feminism. You Just Donât Understand It.
- Putin-Loving Republican Congressman Calls for Investigation Into Anti-âAmericaâ Google
Â© 2014 Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC
PHOTO: Getty Images