Friday, April 24, 2015

Neil Bush's adventures in Asia | Last Word

The New York Times last week told a story from the early days of the first President Bush.

It had to do with a trip made by son Jeb Bush and his business partners to Nigeria.

They had gone to promote their flood and irrigation equipment, but the reception they got was worthy of a state visit.

For five days, Mr. Bush and his associates were chauffeured through major cities.

A crowd of 100,000 locals cheered them at one stop.

Governors paid for lavish receptions in their honor.

The Nigerian president invited them to his office. “

There are parts of the world where relatives of the president are considered royalty.

For Jeb’s kid brother Neil, it was in Asia.

The embrace was more private than Jeb’s, and more intimate.

I learned the story when I first went to the Houston Chronicle and obtained copies of documents from a bitter divorce Neil was seeking.

By this time, Neil’s brother was president, not his father. Still, he was royalty.

Exhibit 24 in the case file was a contract given to Bush by the head of Grace Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.

The company had opened a $1.6 billion computer chip plant in Shanghai.

The contract called for Neil Bush to attend the company’s board of director meetings – not as a director, but as an advisor.

In a separate exhibit, Bush admitted in a deposition that he had no knowledge of the microchip industry, but said he had a master’s in business administration and considerable experience in Asia.

Up until that point, Bush had made his largest mark on the business world with his performance on the board of Silverado Savings and Loan.

The failure of the Denver institution famously cost the federal government more than $1 billion.

Federal regulators assessed Bush’s performance as engaging in "numerous breaches of his fiduciary duties involving multiple conflicts of interest."

He was fined $50,000 and barred from the banking business.

But to Grace’s chief, Winston Wong, Neil Bush was worth $2 million in company stock plus $10,000 for every board meeting he attended.

(Wong was generous to power. He previously had paid $50,000 to have a cup of coffee with President Bill Clinton in the White House.)

In the deposition, Bush also admitted that when he was traveling on business in Asia, he would sometimes get a late-night knock on his hotel room door.

A beautiful woman would greet him, then come in and make him happy.

Bush said he didn’t know the women, never saw them again, and paid them nothing.

Asked if they were prostitutes, he said, “I don’t know.”

I suggested that maybe the women spotted him in the hotel bar and, overcome with lust, bribed the bartender to get his room number.

And maybe Grace contracted to pay him $2 million in stock for his wisdom.

The column went viral.

British tabloids especially loved it, with headlines such as “Hotel Sex Claims of Bush Bro,” and “Brother Is as Daft as a Bush” – whatever that meant.

The New York Post headlined: “Brother Bush a Babe Magnet.”

Jay Leno cracked: “And today, Clinton said, ‘What was the name of that hotel?’ ”

Harper’s Magazine, CNN and the Associated Press asked me for copies of the contract.

Playboy wanted a copy of the sexy part of the deposition.

They promised a free copy of their upcoming 50th anniversary issue for my help.

I told them I had a policy that I accepted no small bribes.

It would require at least a playmate’s knock on my hotel room door.

“Which playmate?” the editor e-mailed back.

I let it go at that, but mentioned it in a subsequent column.

And the wonderful Carmina Danini, who has since retired from the Express-News, messaged me: “I recommend Miss October – 1956.”

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