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We are shocked, shocked to learn that Neil Bush was involved in scammy campaign financing in the 2016 election, oh golly. The Federal Election Commission hit "Right to Rise," the super-PAC that fluffed his brother Jeb's campaign, with a record-setting fine after Neil solicited donations from Chinese nationals Neil was in business with. Mother Jones has the deets on the illegal campaign donation:


Neil Bush, who has extensive business dealings in China, solicited the $1.3 million contribution from American Pacific International Capital (APIC), an international investment holding company where Neil is a board member. Although the contribution to Jeb's super-PAC came from the American arm of APIC, the company's owners are Chinese, and Neil Bush initially solicited the money from two Chinese nationals -- Gordon Tang, the chair of APIC, and Huaidan Chen, a board member. The FEC has fined APIC $550,000 and Right to Rise $390,000.

The total fine, $940,000, is the biggest campaign fine in a single case since the Supremes opened the way to unlimited corporate spending on super-PACs in the Citizens United case. Haha, remember when Barack Obama said at the 2010 State of the Union that decision would "open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limits in our elections," and Samuel Alito angrily shook his head and muttered "not true"? Clearly, Obama owes an apology to Alito: In this case, a foreign company did direct an assload of money at a US campaign, but it got caught this time, so there's no problem!

The donation was the subject of a complaint from those meddling good-government watchdogs at the Campaign Legal Center. The CLC's Brendan Fischer said APIC's

"illegal $1.3 million [donation] is a direct result of Citizens United," Fischer says, since before that 2010 Supreme Court decision, companies could not donate unlimited amounts of money to super-PACs.

It certainly comes as one great big surprise that Neil Bush somehow got caught up in a grifty illegal campaign donation scheme, since he's led such an otherwise blameless life. Wonkette's Ken Layne wrote one of the all-time best summaries of the shady exploits of the often-overlooked Fredo of the Bush boys in 2006, and we're still amazed that "Neil Bush" has somehow never been as notorious a name as "Billy Carter" or "Roger Clinton." Not only did Neil run a crooked savings and loan where he "shuffled millions of dollars to his own oil-exploration front company in Texas while approving hundreds of millions in 'loans' to the S&L's other executives," he also managed to walk away from it all without getting prosecuted. Certainly couldn't have anything to do with his daddy being VP at the time of the scandal. That would be an awfully cynical view.

Neil followed up with a whole string of big business deals that traded on the family name (and Poppy Bush's time as US ambassador in China), but just as often failed. And we'd somehow managed to forget the Asian sex tourism that came to light during his 2003 divorce. Well heck, you should NEVER forget the Asian sex tourism! Which apparently happened without Neil even knowing he was a sex tourist, of course:

He admitted in the deposition that he previously had sex with several other women while on trips to Thailand and Hong Kong at least five years ago.

The women, he said, simply knocked on the door of his hotel room, entered and had sex with him. He said he did not know if they were prostitutes because they never asked for money and he did not pay them.

"Mr. Bush, you have to admit it's a pretty remarkable thing for a man just to go to a hotel room door and open it and have a woman standing there and have sex with her," Brown said.

"It was very unusual," Bush said.

We suppose Bush might have tried to argue something similar happened with donations to his brother's US super-PAC, from his Chinese business partners, except that, as MoJo details, Bush actually made the ask in an email. He may have thought he was following the very careful steps that would make a donation from the US subsidiary of a Chinese company legal, but hey, it's Neil Bush, so his conversations with Tang -- in Singapore -- and emails to Huaidan Chen actually documented that the donations were in fact illegally solicited from foreigns. (An American in the US division of APIC was also included in the email solicitation, but that didn't make it legal.)

Which gets to the bigger picture here: Since Citizens United opened the door to unlimited corporate spending on elections, the FEC's punishment of this one instance of foreign money in the 2016 campaign -- helpfully documented by Neil Bush's emails -- may be a fluke:

"Corporations being able to spend unlimited amounts of money in our elections opens the door to foreign influence," Fischer says. "If the actors were a little more sophisticated, they could have avoided an FEC investigation. There's every indication that this is the tip of the iceberg, that foreign money is coming into our elections through nonprofits and corporations, but without any detection."

Got that, would-be campaign scammers? Don't be Neil Bush: Hide your tracks better. Just say the foreign money knocked on your door, walked right in, and had its way with you without you even knowing what was happening, leaving you pleasantly surprised.

The solution to all this is really quite obvious: Since it's really hard to document where exactly campaign money comes from, the Supremes will just have to allow EVERYTHING. It's the American way.

[Mother Jones / Reuters (via CNN)

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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