By STEVE PEOPLES
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jeb Bush has resigned all of his board memberships — both nonprofit and business — in a move that helps clear a path toward a 2016 presidential campaign.
The former Florida governor stepped down from his remaining board memberships on Wednesday, the last day of the year, an aide said Wednesday night. It’s a continuation of a process that began earlier in the month when Bush announced plans to actively explore a White House bid.
Spokesman Kristy Campbell called Bush’s review of his business interests “a natural next step as he turns his focus to gauging whether there is support for a potential candidacy.”
Bush, the son of one president and brother of another, is seen as an early favorite of the Republican establishment as the next presidential primary season begins. He launched a series of private business ventures after leaving the Florida governor’s mansion in 2007.
Potential foes in both parties have already begun to pour through Bush’s extensive private dealings in search of fodder for criticism.
The Wednesday moves, first reported by The Washington Post, do not affect other business interests in which he is a partner. Those include his business consulting company, Jeb Bush and Associates, and Britton Hill Holdings, a Florida-based private equity and business advisory group.
While some strategists have said Bush’s private-equity work could open him to some of the same criticisms that dogged Mitt Romney, the GOP’s last presidential nominee, Bush himself has said his business record would be an asset in a campaign.
He previously announced plans to step down from the board of Tenet Healthcare Corp. and leave his advisory role with British banking giant Barclays by Dec. 31. He severed ties to other business entities on Wednesday including the for-profit education company Academic Partnerships, Empower Software Solutions and CorMatrix Cardiovascular Inc.
Earlier in the week Bush resigned from the board of timber company Rayonier Inc.
Meanwhile, Bush’s team also confirmed Wednesday that he had declined an invitation to speak at a political event organized by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, one of Congress’ most strident immigration critics. An aide cited a scheduling conflict, although Bush is one of the few high-profile presidential contenders not attending the Iowa Freedom Summit in late January.
Bush is one of the GOP’s most vocal advocates for comprehensive immigration reform. King generally opposes such efforts.
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