Big business is bullish about GOP's George Bush
Who is financing the presidential campaign of George Bush, a surprise early leader in the race for the Republican nomination? Predominantly the American business community -- heavily represented oil men and lightly sprinkled by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) figures. So reveals an examination by this newspaper of campaign finance reports filed to date with the Federal Election Commission.
Mr. Bush once was an oil man and later headed the CIA.
Businessmen rank as the largest source of the money that the Bush campaign raised through the end of 1979 from individual contributors.
Persons identified in the reports as "business executive," "corporate officer ," "investor," and "oil producer" account for nearly 40 percent of the total of both contributors and money contributed.
Specifically, the 3,691 donors in this category account for 39.7 percent of the 9,300 persons who are listed as having contributed to the Bush campaign. Altogether, they have given $1.6 million, or 37.1 percent of the $4.3 million from all individuals.
If the number of such business-community contributors were enlarged to include their spouses. other relatives, and those with related occupations such as bankers, corporate lawyers, and retired businessmen, it would constitute well over half of Mr. Bush's financial resources.
These are far from nickel-and-dime contributors. Their gifts average $437, or nearly one-half the legal maximum of $1,000.
Among the best-known businessmen aiding the Bush campaign are David Rockefeller, chairman of the board of Chase Manhattan Bank, who has given the maximum $1,000 (three other members of the Rockefeller family have chipped in $1 ,000 each); Henry Ford II, chairman of the board of Ford Motor Company, $750; and R. Health Larry, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, $ 450.
A partial list of the many oil-company officials contributing money to Mr. Bush includes Leon Hess, Chairman and chief executive officer of Amerada Hess Corporation, who has given $1,000 (as has his son, John); Ray L. Hunt, chief executive officer of Hunt Oil Company (and son of the oil millionaire H. L. Hunt), $1,000; and Rawleigh Warner Jr., board chairman of Mobil Oil Corporation,
Before entering politics, Mr. Bush worked in the oil business in Texas, co-founding Zapata Petroleum Corporation and heading an offshore drilling firm.
Another field of Mr. Bush's career -- the intelligence community -- also is investing in his candidacy. Money comes from his two immediate predecessors as director of the CIA (a job he held in 1976 and 1977), one former deputy director , and a number of current employees at the agency.
The man whom Mr. Bush succeeded at the CIA, William Colby, director from 1973 to 1976, has contributed $1,000. Richard Helms, CIA director from 1966 to 1973, has given $200. Former deputy director Ray S. Cline has kicked in $450.
The heavy influx of money from the business community appears to be no accident. Bush fund-raising letters seem pitched to businessmen. One recent letter makes three separate references to his business background, concluding with this postscript:
"Although it may come as a surprise, I am the only major candidate with in-depth experience at building and operating a business. I know what it's like to meet payrolls, pay taxes, and take risks. . . ."
The same letter also cites his CIA experience.
"One of the toughest jobs I held was director of the Central Intelligence Agency," it reads. "After years of attacks by liberals in the Congress and Senate, which weakened the effectiveness of that organization and the FBI, I worked to restore its strength and morale. . . . American intelligence must be strengthened."