Trustees should follow lead of First Lady
Published: Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 16:11
Recently, First Lady and SMU trustee Laura Bush said that she would not vote on or participate in the decision-making process regarding the proposed Bush Library complex.
We think several other trustees who have had long-term personal, financial or political relationships with President George W. Bush should also recuse themselves from this project rather than permit questions to be raised about whether they have interests that conflict with their fiduciary duty as trustees of the university.
Among them are eight trustees, seven of whom have been major fundraisers and contributors to Bush political campaigns. All information presented below is from public records.
1) Robert H. Dedman Jr. is chair and CEO of Club Corp. International. The Dedmans are long-time friends of the Bush family, and Dedman raised at least $100,000 for the 2000 Bush presidential campaign and gave more than $16,000 to Bush gubernatorial races
2) Ruth Altshuler is a Dallas philanthropist and investor. She pledged to raise at least $100,000 for the 2000 Bush presidential campaign and gave $25,000 toward the 2001 Bush inaugural gala.
3) Alan Feld is a lobbyist and one of two senior executive partners of the 25th largest law firm in the U.S., Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP. He pledged to raise at least $100,000 for the 2000 Bush presidential campaign.
4) Ray L. Hunt is the Chair and CEO of both Hunt Consolidated, Inc. and Hunt Oil, one of the largest privately owned petroleum companies in the world. He was appointed to the president's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board in 2001 and pledged to raise at least $100,000 for the 2000 Bush campaign. He gave $100,000 toward the 2001 Bush inaugural festivities and Hunt Consolidated, Inc., gave another $250,000 toward the Bush 2005 presidential inaugural gala. Hunt already has donated $35 million toward the Bush Complex at SMU.
5) Michael M. Boone is a corporate attorney and founding partner of the prominent law firm Haynes & Boone, the third largest contributor to the Bush re-election in 2004. The firm and Boone have been active financial and political supporters of Bush since he ran for governor. Boone pledged to raise at least $100,000 for the 2000 presidential campaign and at least another $200,000 in 2004. According to the Center for Responsive Politics in 2004, Boone's law firm was the ninth-largest patron of George W. Bush's overall political career.
6) Jeanne L. Phillips became senior vice president of corporate affairs and international relations at Hunt Oil Company in 2005. According to her official U.S. Department of State biography, Phillips "served as Senior Advisor for National Finance in the Presidential campaign of George W. Bush, developing the original fundraising plan and structure for the finance organization." In 2001 she was appointed ambassador to France and permanent representative to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development by President Bush. She told The New York Times on Jan. 2, 2005, that she had been a close friend of the Bushes since 1979 when she worked as a fundraiser with George H.W. Bush. She postponed her wedding plans to chair Bush's 2005 inaugural events.
7) Donald J. Carty is chair of Virgin America and former chair and CEO of American Airlines. He contributed $100,000 to the Bush 2005 presidential inaugural gala. President Bush appointed Carty in 2002 to the National Infrastructure Advisory Board.
8) Rev. W. Mark Craig is senior pastor of Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas. He has been the long-time pastor to George W. Bush and his family.
We call upon these eight trustees to recuse themselves, along with any others who have had noteworthy personal, political or financial dealings with George W. Bush. The proposed Bush Complex will significantly affect SMU and The United Methodist Church that founded it. Such a decision requires objectivity unencumbered by personal considerations.
About the writers:
Andrew J. Weaver, Ph.D., is a United Methodist minister and research psychologist living in New York City. He is a graduate of Perkins School of Theology.
C. Joseph Sprague is a retired United Methodist Bishop who served the Northern Illinois and Chicago Episcopal area from 1996 to 2004. He lives in London, Ohio.
Kenneth W. Hicks is a retired United Methodist Bishop who served the Arkansas (1976 to 1984) and Kansas (1984 to 1992) Episcopal areas. He lives in Little Rock, Ark.
Joseph H. Yeakel is a retired United Methodist Bishop who served the New York West (1972 to 1984) and Baltimore-Washington (1984 to 1996) Episcopal areas. He lives in Smithburg, Md.