Neil Bush, the Rev. Moon, Paraguay and the U.S. Dept. of Education

President's brother flaks for Moon organization in Latin America while his curriculum on wheels is being investigated by the Education Department's inspector general

Over the past several years, Neil Bush, the younger brother of President George W. Bush and the son of former President George H.W. Bush, has made several international trips of behalf of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s assorted enterprises. In late February, Bush called on Paraguay’s president while in the country as a guest of a business federation founded by the Rev. Moon.

A source in the Paraguayan president’s office, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that Neil had met with President Nicanor Duarte “along with a delegation from the Universal Peace Federation,” a group associated with Moon. According to its website, the UPF “is a global alliance of individuals and organizations dedicated to building a world of peace, a world in which everyone can live in freedom, harmony, cooperation, and co-prosperity for all.”

Meanwhile, back home, late last year, a number of news reports confirmed that the U.S. Department of Education’s Inspector General was looking into “allegations that federal money is being spent inappropriately on technology sold to schools” by Ignite!Learning, a company founded by Neil Bush.

Bush urges conference attendees to be ‘transformers of their societies’

In a statement issued on February 27, headlined “Call for Increased Collaboration in Paraguay,” Dr. Thomas G. Walsh, the Secretary General of UPF, said that Bush called on people to become “transformers of their societies” during a speech at an International Leadership Conference entitled “Toward a New Paradigm of Leadership and Government in Times of World Crisis,” held in late February at the Excelsior Hotel in Asuncion, Paraguay.

According to Walsh, Bush “spoke of a `culture of service’ and a vision of uniting individuals and organizations to promote peace and the common good, calling service `an essential component of any complete life.'”

The conference, following on the heels of one in January in Uruguay, “featured presentations from UPF’s peacebuilding curriculum,” Dr. Walsh’s statement read. Topics included God’s Ideal for Peace, presented by Thomas Field, director of UPI for Latin America; Spirituality and Leadership by Jorge Guidenzoph, President of the Uruguayan National Conference on Leadership; the Cause and Origin of Conflicts, by Ricardo de Sena, Director of UPF’s Office of UN Relations; the Principles of Reconciliation, by Dr. Antonio Betancourt, director of UPF’s Office of Government Relations; and Character Education, by Lic. Jesus Gonzalez, President of the International Educational Foundation.

A photo worth …

A photo from Getty Images by AFP/Getty Images showed Neil Bush leaving the presidential palace after a meeting with President Duarte on February 28, 2008.

walshbetancourtyangbushmoffitgettyimages.jpg

Getty Images captioned the photo: “5 days ago: Neil Bush (C), younger brother of US President George W. Bush, leaves the presidential palace after a meeting with Paraguayan President Nicaron Duarte in Asuncion, on February 28, 2008. Bush is in Paraguay with a delegation of the Federation for Universal Peace, headed by South Korean reverend Sun Myung Moon.”

One veteran Moon watcher filled in the blanks for Talk2Action:

From left to right, the first person is Dr. Thomas G. Walsh, the Secretary General of UPF;

Second from the left is Antonio Betancourt, a “long time Moon follower” who currently is the Director of Government Relations of UPF International and “Character Education,” and who was a major player in “what was formerly called the Summit Council for World Peace or Summit Council, …a group active in Moon’s effort to unite North and South Korea, to save the ‘Fatherland’ and to form Moon’s sovereign nation”;

Third from the left is Chang Shik Yang, the Continental Director of the Unification Church now called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU). Yang “played a lead role in the development of Moon’s black minister snagging unit, the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC), and also is Moon’s top man in the Middle East.”

Fourth is Neil Bush;

On the far right is Larry Moffitt who is the Vice President of editorial operations for United Press International (UPI), a news service owned and operated by Rev. Moon.

The ‘greatest weirdest Bush Conspiracy’

Neil Bush’s trip to Paraguay is all the more interesting when considered against the backdrop of what columnist Ken Layne called the “greatest weirdest Bush Conspiracy.” In a recent piece headlined “The Bushes and the Moons,” Layne wrote:

The story goes like this: George W. Bush and/or George H.W. Bush bought hundreds of thousands of acres in Paraguay, adjoining a similar spread owned by the Unification Church’s Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Both massive parcels are hidden within a remote South American wilderness atop the world’s biggest freshwater aquifer adjoining a secret U.S. military airbase. Oh, and there’s a special non-extradition law to protect the Bush/Moon families as they enjoy their old age and run drug/weapons smuggling rings, safe from American justice. And they’ll own all the drinking water in the world, or something.

Travels with Moon

Two years ago, Neil Bush, along with Rev. Moon, visited the Philippines and Taiwan. While in the Manila, Bush was present for the inaugural convocation of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), and he joined Moon in meeting with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The Manila Bulletin reported: “Together with peace leaders that included Neil Bush … Moon arrived yesterday as part of a 100-day tour that is taking him to 100 cities and 67 nations and covering a journey of almost 100,000 miles.”

Ignite’s COW

At home, Neil Bush is best known for his 1980s involvement in the Silverado Savings and Loan debacle, which cost taxpayers more than $1 billion; the lurid details of a messy divorce from Sharon Bush, his wife of 23 years; and his mother Barbara Bush’s shameless demand that her contribution to a Hurricane Katrina relief foundation, working with those who had to be relocated to Texas, be used by local schools to acquire Ignite! products.

Ignite sells what it calls a “Curriculum on Wheels (COW),” a cart-mounted video projector and hard drive loaded with video content to help teach math, social studies, and science, which costs about $3,800, not including yearly costs for licensing the content, eSchool News pointed out.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group, had called for the inquiry. According to eSchool News, “CREW contends school districts are using federal dollars inappropriately to purchase technology from” Bush’s Austin, Texas-based company. CREW also claimed that “there is no proof the company’s products are effective and claim[ed] that schools in at least three states are using the products mainly as a result of political considerations.”

Ignite! Learning’s president, Ken Leonard, issued a statement denying the group’s allegations:

“While Ignite! Learning welcomes accountability for ensuring that public school expenditures are in compliance with appropriation guidelines, Ignite! Learning has no knowledge of any customer that has procured our curriculum solutions through means which are other than completely ethical.

According to a CREW press release, “Ignite also has a program called Adopt-a-Cow in which corporations buy the equipment and donate it to schools or to charities supporting school districts. An Ignite spokesman said seven Cows were donated last year to the Fund for Public Schools in New York City.”

CREW also “obtained documents through a Freedom of Information Act request showing that the Katy Independent School District west of Houston used $250,000 in state and federal Hurricane Katrina relief money last year to buy the Curriculum on Wheels.”

Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the conservative movement. His column, "Conservative Watch," documents the strategies, players, institutions, victories and defeats of the American Right. Read other articles by Bill, or visit Bill's website.

8 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Jordan said on March 31st, 2008 at 5:44pm #

    Jesus what a sordid clan! Don’t forget Jeb’s little insurance scam back in the ’80’s. Check out Kevin Phillips’ book on the Bush dynasty. And nobody pays any penalty for anything!

  2. DAVE SHAFER said on March 31st, 2008 at 8:20pm #

    WHEN WILL WE SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH…..PROSECUTE THEM ALL…..NOTHING BUT CRIMINALS…..

  3. Judy beale said on April 1st, 2008 at 3:01am #

    Ah! Neil Bush of the S&L debacle. He should have been in jail, doing from now on. for his role in that mess. Must be in league with “devil” or something. Oh, thats right, The Rt, hon rev moon. Iwonder if rev moon stiill owns a large share of the Washington Times newpaper..They have always been bush backers. Hmm?

  4. hp said on April 1st, 2008 at 3:32pm #

    John McCain = Keating Five = Neil Bush

  5. T. Hwang said on April 1st, 2008 at 7:48pm #

    What a mean-spirited report! If you read the actual facts in your own report, all the people you have accused of devious motives (without proof) are in fact trying to do things like bring peace and educate people. This kind of writing used to be called slander, back in the days when journalism had standards.

  6. kingweasil said on April 2nd, 2008 at 10:33am #

    If you read the actual facts in your own report, all the people you have accused of devious motives (without proof) are in fact trying to do things like bring peace and educate people…yeah right .they’re trying to make money for mooney hwang.it’s their sacred cow…

  7. S. Martin said on April 8th, 2008 at 7:55am #

    Here’s my critique of this kind of “news reporting” as shown here by Bill Berkowitz:

    The left accuses the right of the very evils that they practice and somehow claim superiority simply by the fact they’re able to point the finger. Nevermind that the “facts” are fabricated through the biased eyes of someone who has their own agenda to promote to the “masses.”

    Who is Bill Berkowitz? What are his motives? Why does he bear false witness against Rev. Moon and conservatives? Is it because the morals of the religious right challenge his immorality? Is it because he has a homosexual and Marxist agenda?

    Let’s look at the facts: Mr. Berkowitz uses the same tactic of bearing false witness that both Lenin and Hitler used. These twisted individuals preyed on the ignorance and base resentments hidden within the masses. By inciting mobs with lies, they tricked people into believing the solution to the evils of the world were within their reach — if only they trusted in Lenin or Hitler.

    The true solution: Reverend Moon understands the extent that evil works within individuals. (Selfishness.) It is a force that easily deceives because of the spiritual ignorance of people. Religions have yet to fully understand the trickery of this force. Consequently, religions have continued to fail in accomplishing its ideals. It is this failure that Rev. Moon wants to fix. It has nothing to do with drugs or money as Mr. Berkowitz insinuates. It has everything to do with the love Rev. Moon has for people. But Mr. Berkowitz can’t perceive this because of the hatred and resentment (the manifestation of his selfishness) that clouds his mind.

    What is at stake in the world? The true war taking place in the world today is that which takes place within the mind of people. All people have evil traits of some degree or other. As long as such evil exists within a person, that evil will resist goodness. Scapegoating will not rid the world of such evil. Only by the recognition of that hidden evil within ourselves — and it’s defeat by our own conscious effort — will we be able to truly end evil and injustice in the world.

    Catch-22?

  8. JanisL said on October 10th, 2008 at 11:33pm #

    Too bad for the Bushes and the Moonies–the people of Paraguay threw out the RW regime of 60 years recently and elected a resigned Catholic Bishop, a left oriented populist, as president! No more safe haven for Bush and pals to flee to and escape prosecution for their crimes! They will no longer be safe from extradition on their cozy 98,000 acres! And as for Moon and his BS about “peace”–give me a break! As for Neil’s hunk-of-junk education software, teachers in Pinellas County FL have written letters to the editor declaring it “junk” which just sits in great piles in storage, and bought by the county under political pressure! If it’s a Bush, it’s fraudulent, rest assured! Cause birds of a feather flock together. Barbara, you have done one heck of a job raising your “four felons”!!!