Neil Bush and First Family Politics

— President George W. Bush's younger brother, Neil Bush, 49, has put himself and his prominent family into an unflattering election year spotlight.

In a revealing videotaped divorce proceeding obtained by 20/20, Neil disclosed numerous business deals that gave him generous financial benefits for minimal effort. Also detailed were the startling sexual liaisons he had while on business trips in Asia.

In the March 3, 2003, deposition, Neil testified to earning $60,000 a year to be co-chairman of Crest Investment Company for, on average, three or four hours a week of work.

When asked the specifics of his position with the Houston-based company, Neil said he was responsible for "answering phone calls when Jamal Daniel, the other co-chairman, when he called and asked for advice."

Daniel, a Syrian-born businessman based in Houston, is also an advisory board member of New Bridge Strategies, LLC, a company "created specifically with the aim of assisting clients to evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq," according to its Web site.

New Bridge, based in Houston, lists as the principals of the company a group of well-connected businessmen with serious political weight. There are former members of both Bush administrations, the powerful lobbyists Ed Rogers and Lanny Griffith, and John Howland, also a principal of the Crest Investment Company.

Rogers and Griffith told ABC News they were unaware of any connection the company might have to Neil Bush.

And as the violence was escalating this March in Iraq, while Daniel was helping to arrange for clients lucrative contracts in Iraq, he also hosted a lavish second wedding at his Houston mansion for his longtime friend and now business associate Neil Bush, who was marrying for the second time.

Daniel declined to comment for this story.

"I think it shames the Bushes and I think it shames Americans that it doesn't shame the Bushes," said Kevin Phillips, a former Republican strategist and author of The American Dynasty, a critical look about the Bush family.

Observers of the Bush family say Neil has always chosen his friends carefully.

"The history of Neil is essentially a quarter century of moving and shaking and connecting and collecting," Phillips said.

Described as a Dom Perignon affair, the wedding was attended by family patriarch and former President George H.W. Bush, as well as prominent guests from the Middle East and China.

"And there were also very lavish gifts," said Mimi Swartz, executive editor of Texas Monthly. "I think the couple got matching Bulgari watches, I think someone else gave them an SUV."

What’s in a Name

Neil Bush's business travails first surfaced in the late 1980s, when he found himself in the unwelcome spotlight as a director on the board of the failed Silverado Banking Savings and Loan Association in Denver. It was a failure that cost taxpayers $1.3 billion, and though Neil denied any wrongdoing in a scandal that unfolded during the 1992 election, it cost his family as well.

"I remember having one chair in the whole living room," said Sharon Bush. "It was a tough time. We had to move and sell the house."

But when Sharon and Neil Bush resettled in Houston, where his parents live, Sharon says there was no shortage of profitable offers and deals through family connections.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...