While serving as governor of Florida, Jeb Bush had a close relationship with the Southern Strategy Group lobbying firm, seeking advice of its executives, meeting with the group’s clients that had business before the state and giving the firm direct input on legislative proposals, according to the International Business Times.
The International Business Times reviewed 75 email conversations involving then-Gov. Bush and the Southern Strategy Group lobbyists from 1999 through 2006. The emails came from 280,000 messages Bush voluntarily released from his time as governor well before making his formal announcement for president.
A lobbyist at Southern Strategy Group even helped write two speeches for Bush, the outlet reported.
The past relationship with the lobbying firm would seem to be in contrast to Bush’s anti-lobbying rhetoric since announcing his campaign.
As a presidential candidate, Bush has decried “the culture that has made lobbying the premier growth industry in the nation’s capital” and has described himself as “a governor who refused to accept that as the normal or right way of conducting the people’s business.”
In another example from International Business Times, on Aug. 13, 2003, Bush emailed SSG executive David Rancourt, who was previously his deputy chief of staff, to ask: “If you were governor, what would you be focusing on for the next two or three years? What initiatives do you think we should pursue? How do you think we should do it?”
Two days later, Bush signed a medical malpractice reform bill limiting damages that hospitals would have to pay. SSG clients included many Florida hospitals that would have benefited from the legislation.
Moreover, an adviser for the presidential campaign is Sally Bradshaw, Bush’s former chief of staff when he was Florida governor. Bradshaw is married to Paul Bradshaw, who co-founded the Southern Strategy Group with Rancourt.