The willingness of the Bush family to secure its political positions through any means necessary is further evidenced by a new story from the Bloomberg wire. Read the story here.  In short, Bush administration political appointees offered to overpay a major Florida republican donor and real estate developer at least three times the value of his Everglades swampland. This happened just two weeks before First Brother Jeb Bush announced he was seeking re-election as governor of Florida.
Here are some of the more salient grafs:
"This is a sweetheart deal for one of the richest landowners in America,'' that would have been financed by taxpayers, said Keith Ashdown, who has tracked the case for three years as vice president of tax policy at Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington-based advocacy group that opposes government waste.
Funding for the transaction, which requires the approval of Congress, was removed from an appropriations measure in 2003 after lawmakers such as Montana Senator Max Baucus, the senior Democrat on the Finance Committee, said they feared it gave ``abusive'' tax deductions to the family. Baucus asked the inspector general to investigate the agreement on Dec. 16, 2003.
Collier Resources General Manager Bob Duncan said the company would e-mail a statement about the report; no statement was received and a follow-up phone call was not returned.
Devaney is scheduled to testify before the finance committee today.
At the time it was announced, the agreement with the Naples, Florida, Collier family was hailed by Interior Department Secretary Gale Norton as "a win for all sides.'' Environmental groups such as the World Wildlife Fund also backed it.
Two weeks later, Republican Governor Jeb Bush, the president's brother, said he would run for re-election, leading critics to suggest he was seeking to burnish his environmental credentials through the Collier land transaction. "They wanted to score some points for looking green before the election,'' Ashdown said.
Members of the Collier family contributed more than $121,000 to Republican candidates in the last election cycle, including at least $5,000 to Jeb Bush, according to the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign donations.