Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Did The Bush Family Murder Michael Wise Last Week?


Dead Republican predator

You may not remember who Michael Wise even is was. Many of us lost track of Neil Bush's former Silverado crony while he was serving three and a half years in prison for looting the shady Aspen-based mortgage company after he got away with the 1988 Silverado Savings and Loan scandal. Officially, Wise committed suicide on April 8 by jumping off the ninth floor of a parking garage at Tampa International Airport. Another in a long, long, long list of coincidences in the life of George H.W. Bush? Possibly. I have to admit I'm more than a little weirded out being in the middle of reading Russ Baker's new book, Family of Secrets, which makes a strong case that Poppy was, in short, the Vladamir Putin of America, an intelligence operative who took over the government by hook and crook. That he had some kind of involvement with the assassination of John F. Kennedy looks like a sure bet. Did he have Wise killed? It wouldn't surprise me.

Before Wise went to prison for the Cornerstone Private Capital heist, there was a great deal of unwanted publicity for the Bush family because of Neil Bush's involvement in the Silverado scandal-- which cost taxpayers $1.3 billion. Bush was found to have engaged in numerous "breaches of his fiduciary duties involving multiple conflicts of interest" and forced to pay a $50,000 fine plus an undisclosed portion of a $26.5 million out of court settlement, but was never indicted, let alone imprisoned. Wise was soon bilking investors again. An early and mini-version of Bernie Madoff, Wise had been banned from banking for life but found his next predatory niche in the unregulated world-- thanks, as usual, GOP-- of real estate finance, i.e., mortgages. (By the way, Wise wasn't just an early Madoff, he was also a model for crooked banksters who feel it's fair game to take huge bonuses, 9 million in his case, out of collapsing businesses.)

Supposedly there were "witnesses" to the suicide. Funny how the Bushes work; there are always witnesses for them. There was no suicide note. But there are plenty of trails to follow-- if anyone was interested to see where they led (unlike the Warren Commission, which steered clear of all trails but the pre-determined one). Time Magazine spent more time investigating Wise's relationship to the Bushes than the feds did.
Was Neil Bush a guileless victim of Denver's hard-charging financial sharpies or a willing accomplice? In the view of government regulators, Bush and 10 other former directors and officers of Denver's failed Silverado Banking, Savings and Loan are guilty of "gross negligence" and should pay $200 million in restitution for contributing to the S&L's collapse. As the President's outgoing, personable third son faces a separate disciplinary hearing this week in a Denver courthouse, federal investigators will accuse him of violating conflict-of-interest regulations while serving as a $12,000- a-year Silverado director. The 35-year-old oilman was widely perceived as a mere pawn of manipulators bent on cultivating political protection from federal regulators. Yet that sympathetic view now seems to fall far short of the full story.

A different portrait of the likable young Bush emerges from Time interviews with former Silverado executives and real estate developers with whom the S&L had cozy and possibly illegal dealings. Citing Bush's M.B.A. from Tulane University, Denver insiders contend that he had to be aware of his own vulnerability to the go-go bankers and developers with whom he dealt. More significantly, they insist that Bush did not fall innocently into the clutches of the shrewd operators. Bush, they say, was as enthusiastic as Denver's highflyers in arranging their financing of his upstart JNB oil company, which he had the bad timing to start just after the petroboom had peaked.

The crafty moneymen not only bought stock in Bush's company and gave him a $100,000 loan he did not have to repay but also consented to lavish compensation that Bush awarded himself from his failing company. According to thrift and real estate sources, Bush drew a salary of $120,000 a year, earned undisclosed bonuses and had a comfortable expense account.

In the lawsuit filed last week, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is trying to recoup some of the $1 billion that the government spent to bail out the failed Silverado. "Our conclusion is that Silverado was the victim of sophisticated schemes and abuses by insiders and of gross negligence by its directors and outside professionals," said Douglas Jones, the FDIC's senior deputy general counsel. In the Denver hearing this week, the Office of Thrift Supervision aims to persuade an administrative-law judge that Bush should be banned in effect from ever again serving on the board of a financial institution. Bush contends he is innocent of the charges, in which he is accused of failing to disclose his business relationships with developers who sought loans from Silverado.

The Silverado disaster might be dismissed as ancient history, except for the fact that if we don't learn from history-- in this case "a tale of interlocking relationships and sweet deals among S&Ls and their biggest customers, the possible impact of political contributions in delaying crackdowns by regulators"-- we are doomed to repeat it. As we are now-- only much worse. Wise poured millions of dollars-- his own and his industry's PAC's-- into the careers of the politicians who offered him protection and the kind of environment condusive to the predatory nature of his business. Hiring Bush's son was part of that racket. As Time wrote in a feature two months before the one quoted above...
The collapse of Denver's Silverado Banking has exposed much more than just the questionable business relationships of President Bush's son Neil. The fall of Colorado's No. 3 savings and loan has put the spotlight on a group of go-go bankers and developers who, with access to Silverado's money, built political influence in Colorado and even Washington.

Congressional investigators are just beginning to probe the way in which Silverado was entwined in dubious deals with M.D.C. Holdings, the state's largest home builder. Former employees of Silverado and M.D.C. have told Time that the home builder made improper campaign contributions to
local and national politicians. Among those donations were payments made to the 1987 re-election campaign of Denver Mayor Frederico Pena in the hope of ensuring that key portions of a hugh new $ 2.9 billion airport, then still on the drawing board, would be located on land owned by Silverado and M.D.C.

Most Denver residents welcome the 52-sq-mi. project, not only to ease air-traffic congestion but also to provide an economic stimulant to a city that has been nearly paralyzed since the oil bust of the mid- 1980s. When Pena first ran for office in 1983, he opposed the new airport, advocating instead an expansion of Denver's Stapleton International Airport. But after he was elected, Pena became a supporter of the popular project.

Throughout 1984, as Denver secretly negotiated with neighboring Adams County for a new site, M.D.C. and Silverado quietly began buying up farmland that would eventually be selected as part of the development corridor leading to the airport. "Despite all the millions of profits they were showing
on paper, M.D.C. and Silverado had been running on empty for a long time, and they looked at potential profits from the new airport as a savior," says a former key employee of M.D.C.'s housing arm. (Richmond Homes/Richmond American) The new owners of the potentially valuable land were members of an emerging power elite in Denver, who proceeded to orchestrate formidable civic support for the airport project.

The main boosters: developer Bill Walters, a colleague of Neil Bush's and then president of the Denver Chamber of Commerce; Michael Wise, then chairman of Silverado: and Larry Mizel, chairman of M.D.C.
Mizel met with Pena in 1986 to urge an accelerated time-table for the airport construction. Pena, citing a study forecasting the creation of 20,000 new jobs, announced a plan to move up the airport's opening date more than a year, to 1992. When Pena entered a tight race for re-election in 1987, M.D.C. was a principal backer.

Public records show that M.D.C. and its executives contributed $ 34,000 to his campaign. In fact, the company funneled additional thousands to Pena through back channels. To disguise the extent of its political influence, former employees say, M.D.C. coerced many of its building subcontractors into making contributions to Pena and then allowed them to recoup the money by submitting phony bills for construction work. Asked about these contributions, a Pena spokesman said, "We have absolutely no
knowledge of this."

Local contractors went along with the arrangement because M.D.C., relying heavily on junk bonds and a series of loans from Silverado, was one of the last big developers to continue building projects in Denver after the oil boom collapsed. "There was little work in Denver, and M.D.C. said we would be blackballed if we didn't go along," a contractor participant says. According to a major building contractor, the contribution scheme was not limited to local politics. The contractor told Time that M.D.C. directed their company to contribute thousands of dollars to Senators, to the Republican National Committee and to a 1986 senatorial fund raiser at which Mizel was the host and President Reagan was a guest. Asked about these illegal contributions, M.D.C. said it "recently became aware of assertions that some of its employees were involved in using corporate funds to reimburse subcontractors for political contributions." The company said it was investigating the allegations.

M.D.C.'s Mizel and Silverado's Wise were major, aboveboard fund raisers for Bush and Reagan, and were hosts for dinners that netted as much as $1 million for the candidates. Congressional investigators aim to find out whether, the hefty fund raising by the Denver executives influenced federal regulators to postpone the seizure of Silverado for almost two years.

In the end, time ran out for the bug-clout club formed by Denver's go-go boys. They failed to benefit from the airport's progress because the Federal Government finally seized Silverado six months before Denver voters gave final approval for the giant project.

Time's running out for our democracy thanks to predators like Michael Wise-- the later day ones you've been reading about here at DWT everyday-- and, of course, the equally vile politicians who make it possible for them to rob the rest of us. This afternoon, I spent some time on the phone calling my congresswoman, a reliable progressive named Diane Watson. She didn't come to the phone but an assistant promised he'd give her my message. And that message goes to the root of everything that is wrong with the American system and everything we should have learbned from the cautionary tale of Michael Wise and the Bush Family: big money dominating politics. I asked Congresswoman Watson to co-sponsor the Fair Elections Now Act, the way the best congressmembers (like Donna Edwards, Alan Grayson, Jared Polis, Steve Cohen and Jerrold Nadler) already have. Here's the simple tool I used to do it; you can do the same thing with your own congresscritter.

UPDATE: And About That Campaign Finance Reform Thing...

Randy "Duke" Cunningham's district was on the lovely Pacific Ocean between San Diego and Los Angeles. And he was given a yacht or two in return for some favors he did-- with millions in taxpayer money-- for some Republican war contractors. He kept the yacht in the Washington, DC Yacht Basin, though, not in the Pacific. When now there's another right-wing Randy with a yacht situation.

Randy Neugebauer is one of the most extremist members of Congress-- and one of the more corrupt. Since 2003 he's gobbled up $5,756,426 in campaign contributions, much of it from special interests looking for the kinds of special favors they got from the other Randy-- the ones that landed the other Randy in federal prison in fact. In fact, $1,253,775 of that has come from the finance/insurance/real estate sector, the authors of the current economic collapse, and Neugebauer was an enthusiastic supporter of every single deregulation they asked for in return for the fat contributions-- called bribes in plain English-- they gave him.

Neugebauer, who represents a landlocked west Texas district centered on Lubbock also has a yacht. And he also thinks it shouldn't be him paying for it. According to Citizens For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Neugebauer thinks his campaign funders should pay for his yacht-- which, like the other Randy's, is also based in DC. You see, he uses it to wine and dine the people who bribe him so he says it's a "legitimate" campaign expenditure that should come out of his campaign coffers.

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At 6:34 AM, Blogger Juan Liberale said...

If you want to explain teabagging to a conservative friend, here is the best picture to sum it up.


Republicans make it sooooo easy.

At 7:06 AM, Blogger Bob In Pacifica said...

Family of Secrets is an excellent book. Think of the Bush Family as the public face of the 1963 coup. I have long seen Barbara Bush as a kind of patrician Ma Barker. I can only imagine her and George sitting around the breakfast table with their criminal sons, maybe telling them that Grandpa Prescott (who was banker for the Nazi investments) was coming to dinner.

These are the people who've run our country the last half century. No wonder we find ourselves in this ditch.

At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More than just witnesses, there is surveillance video. "A security video shows Wise pacing, then he stepped off the side."


At 2:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work where he lived. Prior to jumping he attempted to slice his wrists in his condo. A tid bit not found in the papers.

At 9:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

all the paranoid conspiracy theorizing just sounds sad. do you really think you've got it figured out? you're that genius? they fooled the world but not you then, right? come on. get real.you don't have much of a clue about the real truth, neither does anyone else--including bush etc. and the bit about 'murdering' michael wise is pathetic. you obviously knew little of his real story like those that were actually close to his family and understood his personality. when the historical FACTS show big success, massive failure, prison, shame, wife and son dying in separate tragic deaths, etc, anything is possible and it is not something to be 'figured out'.

it would be far better if you spent your time and energy worrying more doing something productive for humanity, helping out other people, and being sensitive to his remaining survivors like a young sweet orphaned daughter.

At 9:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear partisan people (like you juan). why would you ever think that one party of POLITICIANS has it right while the other does not? They are all so flawed, so flawed. The republicans have their mistakes and the democrats certainly have theirs (what dems are doing now to government size and spending will make it sooooo easy to criticize this administration 5-10-15 years down the road). Neither, currently, represent what made this country strong and free and morally good. Neither. You must do your homework and listen to or read from some very smart studied people that don't have an agenda (like most of the people you are listening to).

At 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



At 11:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael Wise was my uncle.

The idea that he was such a danger to the Bush family that he had to be killed decades after the Silverado scandal is completely ludicrous.

There are no facts to support any such suggestion. Mike called his girlfriend from the parking garage and paced around for quite some time before he jumped. There's a video of him doing so. No one helped him jump.

Mike Wise was not a good person by any stretch of the imagination. However, the ludicrous suggestion that he was "murdered" is an insult to my entire family (none of whom are "predators" but we are definitely Republicans, by the way).

More importantly, it's also an insult to the thousands of victims he left in his wake.

Knowing what I know about the real Mike Wise, and having no paranoid delusions about the Bush family, here's what the facts actually suggest:

My uncle was going to be busted in connection with ripping off Cornerstone. He also found himself out of options for his next scam/big score/rich wife and so he killed himself rather than go back to jail.

You see, he got involved in Cornerstone in the first place by convincing one of it's principals that he had reformed and found God in prison. That's also how he met his wealthy widow. That ploy obviously wasn't going to work again. He couldn't think of any comfortable exits which would allow him to continue to enjoy the lifestyle which he believed he was entitled to be accustomed, so he made a very personal exit instead.

That's it. No conspiracy. No cover-up. Just a greedy Svengali making a cold calculation to escape the discomfort and annoyance of another trial and imprisonment.


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