Like Neil Bush, "Bucky" Can Smell an Opportunity

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Like Neil Bush, "Bucky" Can Smell an Opportunity

It must have been a testament to Neil Bush's tenacious work ethic that he managed to find a Colorado millionaire who was willing to give him $100,000 to gamble in the commodities market with no worry of paying it back.

Yes, indeed, the Bush family has a knack for recognizing a business opportunity. Take "Bucky" Bush, for example. Never heard of him? Neither had I until I read this article from Thursday's edition of the London-based Independent newspaper:
The Iraq war has produced many winners and many losers. And one small but significant winner is a certain William "Bucky" Bush, brother of one president and uncle to the current occupant of the White House.

The good fortune of Uncle Bucky, as he is known within America's ruling family, has been to hold a seat on the board of Engineered Support Systems Incorporated (ESSI), a St Louis-based company that has flourished mightily as a military contractor to the Pentagon.

Last month, ESSI shares hit a record $60.39 (£31.64) apiece ­ more or less exactly the moment the presidential uncle chose to sell 8,438 options worth around $450,000, according to obligatory reports filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and disclosed by the Los Angeles Times yesterday. William Bush denies that his presence on the board has had anything to do with the company's success in boosting expected revenues to an estimated $[1 billion] in 2005, in good part reflecting no-bid contracts relating to the war.

Noting that he joined [ESSI] in 2000, before his nephew was elected, "Bucky" Bush says he has not lobbied anyone in Washington to send contracts ESSI's way. "I don't make any calls to the 202 [Washington, DC] area code," he told the [Times].

In fact Mr Bush, aged 66 and 14 years the junior of his brother, the first president George Bush, has long been a prominent member of the St Louis business community and was state chairman in Missouri for the 2004 Bush/Cheney re-election campaign. "Having a Bush doesn't hurt," Dan Kreher, a senior ESSI executive, says.

The company has supplied a variety of equipment to the U.S. military effort in Iraq, including a $49-m contract to refurbish military trailers .... In 2003, ESSI was awarded contracts for equipment to help search for, and protect US soldiers from, Iraq's chemical and biological weapons, which turned out to have been a figment of the imagination of the Bush administration.

But some of that government business is now under scrutiny. The Pentagon has announced that $158-m worth of contracts won by ESSI in 2002, including work on a new air cargo loading device called Tunner, is being reviewed by its inspector general for suspected "anomalies."

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