Jeb Bush grabs cash from Iran and Cuba émigrés while opposing Obama policies

Campaign finance disclosures show Republican presidential candidate’s donors align closely with his opposition to Obama’s foreign policy on Iran and Cuba

Émigrés from Iran and Cuba are at the top of Jeb Bush’s record-breaking presidential fundraising haul, according to campaign finance disclosures that paint the former Florida governor’s opposition to Barack Obama’s twin foreign policy priorities in stark new light.

Mike Fernandez, a Florida-based private equity billionaire who moved from Cuba in the 1960s, appears to be the largest single donor – giving just over $3m in three contributions to the Bush-supporting Right to Rise group since March.

Hushang Ansary, Iran’s ambassador to the US before the revolution who is now based in Texas, is joint second on the list – contributing $2m together with his wife, Shahla Ansary.

Only US citizens or green-card holders can make contributions to political campaigns. Both men have lived in the US for decades.

Nineteen families or corporations have given more than $1m, according to the filings made available on Friday.

The Right to Rise political action committee, known as a Super Pac for its unlimited donation limits, has raised more than $100m to help Bush’s presidential campaign since it launched, although it is technically independent from the candidate under Federal Election Commission rules.

Ansary, who has business interests in the oil industry, has long been a big donor to the Bush family, having contributed heavily to George W Bush’s campaign in the 1990s.

Three other Texas-based couples who made their money from oil also gave $2m each: Richard and Nancy Kinder, Ray and Nancy Hunt, and Trevor and Jan Rees-Jones.

Fernandez has written about how he cannot forget “the brutality of the regime” in Cuba, having witnessed the death of a man by firing squad there at the age of nine. But he has also argued it is “time to accept change” in the island’s relationship with the US.

“I am not a fan of President Obama but after 50-plus years, this is long overdue,” he added in a statement issued at the time of the White House deal with Cuba.

Helen Schwab, wife of multibillionaire Charles Schwab, gave $1.5m. According to Forbes, Charles Schwab, 78, the largest shareholder and executive chairman of the brokerage that bears his name, is worth $7.3bn.

Other members of the Bush family also gave a lot of cash. Jeb’s father, former president George HW Bush, donated $125,000; his brother, former president George W Bush, gave $95,000. American Pacific International Capital, where Jeb’s brother Neil sits on the board, gave $1.3m.

Former US ambassadors appointed by the two Bush presidents gave a total of $3.8m.

Among big donors are hedge fund billionaire Louis Bacon who gave $1m through his hedge fund Moore Capital Management. Bacon, who is worth $1.75bn according to Forbes, hosted a glitzy party in support of Mitt Romney before the last election and has donated £250,000 to the Conservative party in the UK.

Bacon owns luxury homes in New York, the Bahamas, London and Colorado. Earlier this year he filed a $50m defamation lawsuit against a Bahamas vacation-home neighbour, the Finnish-Canadian fashion boss Peter Nygard, over an allegedly “obsessive and malicious” smear campaign against him.

Another hedge fund billionaire, Robert Day, chairman and chief executive of the Californian Oakmount Corporation, donated $1m.

The managing director of Barclays bank in New York, Stephen Lessing, donated $250,000. Lessing was a top executive at Lehman Brothers in the runup to its collapse.

Much of the money, nearly $30m, came from Florida where Jeb Bush served as governor for eight years.


Dan Roberts in Washington and Rupert Neate in New York

The GuardianTramp

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