The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Bush’s business is funny business

Jul 22, 2002

When George W. Bush sold Harken Energy stock just before its price collapsed, it raised the question of insider trading, not to mention dirty dealing to inflate the stock price. Big questions remain about that deal, but it is well known that Bush went on to bigger things with the money from that sale.

He invested $606,000 as part of a syndicate buying the Texas Rangers baseball team in 1989. When the syndicate sold the team to Tom Hicks of Utimco nine years later, each member was supposed to get three times their share. For Bush that would have meant almost two million dollars – a nice rate of return.

However, the other investors decided that Bush – then governor of Texas – would get about 15 million dollars. What’s a little twelve million dollar gift between friends, especially when the friend was then governor of the state?

And who is Tom Hicks of Utimco that he could afford to pay a price so high that everyone in baseball questioned it? Hicks worked for the University of Texas with its large endowment fund. Under Governor Bush, the University of Texas funds were, as George put it, “privatized.” Nine billion dollars went into an investment fund managed by Tom Hicks.

Nine billion is a lot of money, and what made things even better was that it was no longer under scrutiny by the university auditors – thanks to rules also changed by none other than Governor Bush. Some of the investments Hicks made went into private funds which benefitted ... major Republican Party donors. What a surprise! But the really big investment was the Hicks’ purchase of the Texas Rangers which benefitted ... Governor Bush and his partners.

Bush likes to call himself “the education president.” Apparently what he means is taking education endowment funds and turning them over to his pals for profit.

That’s how they do good business under Bush. Today, he talks of making business executives more accountable – now we see what he means.