Jeb Bush just got another Swift Boatload of baggage from his brother after a bombshell report that former President George W. Bush in 2012 took $100,000 from a Texas charity that builds homes for disabled veterans just to give a speech.
And adding to Jeb Bush’s new headache: His brother’s wife, former First Lady Laura bush got $50,000 to speak in front of the same group the year before, ABC News reported.
There’s nothing new to the fact that former presidents make a mint speaking on the rubber chicken circuit. Bill Clinton made a whopping $104.9 million giving 542 speeches through the years, the Washington Post reported last year.
Spokesmen for Clinton and former President Jimmy Carter were quick to say after Wednesday night’s story, however, that they never have and never would personally profit to speak to a vets group
Neither Bush addressed the veterans scandal Thursday.
One man was happy to, however: Jeb Bush GOP rival Donald Trump.
“Jeb's brother George insisted on a $100,000 fee and $20,000 for a private jet to speak at a charity for severely wounded vets. Not nice!” the Donald finger-wagged on Twitter.
And then he threw a second punch: “You mean George Bush sends our soldiers into combat, they are severely wounded, and then he wants $120,000 to make a boring speech to them?”
The group George W. and Laura Bush spoke to is called Helping a Hero, a nonprofit that helps build or retrofit homes for maimed vets of the two wars started by the former president in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Those wars have weighed heavy on Jeb Bush’s campaign. The former Florida governor has flip-flopped on whether he would have supported the war.
Perhaps the harshest criticism for the former president came from the veterans who ABC’s Brian Ross interviewed, including Marine Eddie Wright, who lost both his hands in Fallujah.
“For him to be paid to raise money for veterans that were wounded in combat under his orders, I don’t think that’s right,” said Wright, a former member of Helping a Hero’s board.
“You sent me to war,” he said. “I was doing what you told me to do, gladly for you and our country and I have no regrets.”
“But it is kind of a slap in the face.”
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke before Helping a Hero charity fundraiser and did not charge a fee, ABC noted.
A lawyer for Helping a Hero, Christopher Tritico told ABC: “I think it's a valid question for the former President … It's not a valid question for a charity who raised an extra million dollars.”
Meanwhile, Jeb Bush, may have an even worse crisis to manage.
He told The Manchester Union Leader that in order to grow the economy “people need to work longer hours ” so they can “gain more income for their families.”
The story is hitting the media like a thunderbolt.
Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, had one of the better zingers: “Really? His brother tanks economy, destroys jobs and now this? -- Jeb Bush: People Need to Work Longer Hours”
John A. Oswald is editor-at-large at Metro and can be found on Twitter @nyc_oz.