I missed revelations involving the emails that Bush Foundation CEO, Patricia Levesque’s made on behalf of SendHub, a tech firm that former governor Jeb Bush invested in during 2012. My initial focus was on Florida’s emails and missed In the Public Interests summation on the matter. I will be recognizing that a correction is necessary in this post. USF professor Sherman Dorn provides details:
The question of a personal conflict of interest is both more serious and simpler to resolve. In the Public Interest is strongly suggesting that Jeb Bush personally benefitted by FEE’s pushing the use of SendHub, a tech firm in which Bush became a visible investor in late 2012. One of SendHub’s founders is a former Bush aide, but note that “late 2012” date (October, I think)? At least one of the emails from Patricia Levesque mentioning SendHub is from February 2012. I could not find the other emails mentioning SendHub on the website with the documents, but if the pushing of SendHub is from the first half of 2012 or earlier, it looks like casual back-scratching of people in the same circle. The only catch: Garrett Johnson (from SendHub) sits on the board of the Foundation for Florida’s Future, which also employes Levesque. That relationship could present a conflict of interest, depending on when Johnson began on the board (again, journalists need to talk with an expert in non-profit management). But unless there is an email pushing SendHub after Bush became an investor, it’s not an obvious conflict of interest for Bush personally
I doubt that Dorn or anybody else has gone through all the emails, and one could emerge. But I’ve never believed that Bush was in any way profiting from his efforts and that his investment in SendHub was likely out of loyalty to a former aid. I also don’t doubt that Bush feels he’s doing the right thing. His motivations and methods are what’s troubling.
Bush has visceral hatred for Florida’s teacher union and it frequently comes through in public statements. It even comes out during pronouncements from his foundations. In the Public Interest’s report was dismissed this week as coming from a “union-backed organization.” And this from spokeswoman Jaryn Emhof on the SendHub revelations:
“The notion that Gov. Jeb Bush, who has spent the past 20 years as a passionate advocate for education reform, is profiting from this involvement is beyond ridiculous. He has devoted thousands of hours to this cause without compensation.
If Dorn is correct and Levesque’s advocacy for SendHub ended before Bush became an investor, why not just say so? A statement which discredits the messenger (it was your emails they published) and only conveys outrage does nothing to end speculation. Such sanctimony shows just how arrogant Bush and his foundations have become. They’ve come to assume they have moral authority on education policy and aren’t to be questioned.