Old Family Scandals May Haunt Jeb Presidential Run

Image: Old Family Scandals May Haunt Jeb Presidential Run

Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 01:56 PM

By Sharon Churcher

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If Jeb Bush decides to run for president, GOP leaders are warning that he may face "hurtful" questions about past family scandals.

In 1999, while he was governor of Florida, his wife, Columba, was fined for declaring only $500 worth of goods to U.S. Customs on her return from Paris, where she actually made close to $20,000 in purchases.

Three years later, his daughter Noelle, was arrested at age 24 for alleged prescription fraud while trying to buy a tranquilizer, Xanax.

In 2005, his son, Jeb Jr., then 21, was arrested in Texas for public intoxication and resisting arrest.

reported Wednesday that, as " the buzz picks up" about whether George W. Bush’s younger brother will run for the White House, donors are questioning whether he is prepared to face "new questions" about the old scandals.

"The issues have been brought up by the press and others in the past, and the family issues may well be brought out again," said Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union, who headed the Florida GOP while Bush was governor. "If these matters are brought up, it would hurt him, not politically but personally. He has to make up his mind whether that’s a burden he wants to bear."

A former aide to former President George W. Bush, Tony Fratto, insisted that these "family concerns" will not deter Jeb Bush from considering a run.

"He dealt with them as governor and since then," Fratto said. "How a race impacts your family, whatever their conditions are, a lot of the same issues he may be considering are the same as lots of other [potential] candidates."

Fratto pointed out that if Bush were to run, his possible rivals would include the "heavily scrutinized" Hillary Clinton.

"You have two families here where it’s hard to come up with any more secrets about them," he said.

"In a way, it’s a luxury that they can go into a race without worrying about what kinds of things people might try to dig into their past and unearth....

"If Jeb runs, and if Hillary runs, neither is going to be shocked at that level of critical commentary, scrutiny and investigation into their pasts," Fratto said.

Jeb Bush’s concerns about his family’s privacy are thought, however, to have played a role in his decision to skip the 2012 presidential race.

"They thought he wouldn’t do it because of Columba …[that] has not changed," a GOP donor said.

Bloomberg News last year reported that Jeb often speaks movingly about Columba, whom he met while he was an exchange student in her native Mexico. He has said that their relationship remains fiery.

"Did I mention that my lover is my wife?" he quipped to an immigration policy group.

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