O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Neil Bush, runt of the litter that includes our next president and the current governor of Florida, is in hock again!

A decade ago, Bush became the poster child for the savings and loan crisis when Silverado, a federally insured Colorado bank of which Neil became a director at the tender age of 30, went belly up. U.S. taxpayers ended up paying $1 billion. Bush ended up paying $50,000 to settle a civil suit by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Throughout the ordeal, Neil remained eerily buoyant. When Chatterbox interviewed Neil for the Wall Street Journal in July 1990, he said that in 10 years, “I may be a U.S. senator. Who knows?”

Ten years later, Neil is not a U.S. senator. He is, in fact, absent from most press accounts of the storied Bush family. Neil lives in Houston now, though the Denver papers quoted him last August when he was in Philadelphia for the Republican convention, saying he intends to return to Colorado when his kids finish school. (He made a rare TV appearance on Larry King Live the same day.) Neil now runs an Austin-based Internet company called Ignite!, which “adapts engaging instructional content to an individual learner’s strengths and progress.” Before that, he ran a venture capital firm in Houston called Interlink Management Corp., which, as Dan Moldea and David Corn pointed out in the Oct. 23 Nation, teamed up with a Bangkok-based conglomerate called the Charoen Pokphand Group around the same time in 1996 that the latter was participating in John Huang’s White House “coffees.” Apparently there’s no direct connection between Neil and the Clinton fund-raising scandals.

Neil’s current financial troubles have nothing to do with his businesses. They have to do with his house in Houston (assessed value: $857,000), on which he owes delinquent property taxes for 1998. As you can see if you click here, Neil owes Harris County, Texas, $4,449.97. Before you get too excited, though, $4,442.81 of that is simply a property tax bill for 2000 that doesn’t come due until the end of this month. The other $7.16 is Neil’s delinquent tax for 1998.

Some people would say that $7.16 in unpaid taxes isn’t worth an investigative reporter’s time. To this, Chatterbox would reply: With a notorious deadbeat like Neil, you can’t be too careful! According to a separate “tax statement” document available on the Harris County tax assessor’s Web site, that $7.16 will rise to $7.43 on June 30!

Chatterbox put in a call to the Harris County tax assessor to find out what Neil’s particular offense was. It turns out that back in 1998, Neil (or, possibly, his bank) paid his property tax bill of $3,804.80 late, incurring a penalty of $4.58, which he didn’t pay. With penalties and interest, that $4.58 has now ballooned to $7.16.