By Ashley Lopez
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
Ahead of Jeb Bush’s plan to release emails to the public next year from his eight years as Florida’s governor, The Washington Post recently requested the emails. The paper also recently revealed a lucrative business connection tied to Obamacare.
Bush is currently exploring the possibility of running for president in 2016 and recently announced that he would release emails from his time in office some time next year.
But, as the Post points out, those emails were already accessible as part of the state’s broad public records laws. That’s why the Post requested all electronic correspondence from when he was the state’s chief executive.
The Post reports the emails Bush plans to release are not the full picture. According to the paper, “the former governor is expected to release only documents already required to be made available under state law, which allows exemptions for legal communications and personnel matters, among others.”
The Post reports that the emails “provide an inside look at how Bush moved aggressively to overhaul areas such as education, taxes and health care between 1999 and 2007, a record now being closely scrutinized as he contemplates a White House bid. “
However, they also “depict him both as terse chief executive and a sometimes flippant writer who sprinkled his messages with “awesome,” “my bad” and “chill out,” the newspaper reports.
The Post points out that these emails are an interesting– but not complete– look at Bush’s time in office.
And the e-mails that he will release show a somewhat filtered version of operations within his administration, in part because Bush was keenly aware that his correspondence could one day become public.
In one December 1999 message to several aides, for instance, Bush cut off an exchange about vacation time by noting that their messages “might make a newspaper one of these days.” He added: “I suggest that you guys have a verbal conversation about it rather than create a public document. :)”
Bush’s team plans to post the e-mails on a searchable Web site early next year. The release has been touted as a symbol of Bush’s commitment to transparency, a record viewed skeptically by Florida open-government advocates.
The Post reports the emails tackled how Bush “regularly sought to calm conservative activists who wanted him to take the government further to the right”—especially on issues such as abortion.
Besides releasing emails from his time in office, the Post also recently reported that Bush is trying to shed some business ties that could have political implications.
The for-profit hospital chain Tenet Healthcare announced on Christmas Eve that Jeb Bush would be stepping down from its board of directors by the end of the year. Bush, who has served on the board of Tenet since 2007, is starting to cut his business ties as he explores a run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. And there’s one obvious reason why keeping Tenet on his resume might not look so good politically: Tenet has benefited greatly from the Affordable Care Act, which much of the GOP base is still committed to repealing.
Bush is giving up a lucrative board post. He earned $128,500 in cash plus $170,000 in stock last year for a total of $298,500 according to Tenet’s 2013 proxy statement.
And he sat on the board during a particularly profitable time for Tenet.
Tenet is the country’s third-largest publicly traded hospital chain, with 80 hospitals across 14 states and more than 200 outpatient centers in 16 states. The Dallas-based hospital chain immediately reported reaping the benefits of Obamacare’s coverage expansion since it took effect at the start of this year.
As of now, Bush is currently the GOP frontrunner for the presidential race in 2016, according to a recent CNN/ORC poll.