Charity begins at home

Barbara Bush donates money for Katrina relief -- but insists that it be spent with a company owned by her son.

Published March 23, 2006 7:17PM (EST)

If you think there's something a little cynical about politicians who are divesting themselves of their Abramoff-related contributions by giving the money, in their own names, to charity, just wait until you get a load of this. Former First Lady Barbara Bush -- last heard marveling at the good fortune that had befallen "underprivileged" Katrina refugees who found themselves relocated to Houston -- has written a check to the Katrina relief fund spearheaded by her husband and former President Bill Clinton.

The catch? As the Houston Chronicle reports, Mrs. Bush gave the money "with specific instructions" that it be spent "with an educational software company owned by her son Neil."

"Mrs. Bush wanted to do something specifically for education and specifically for the thousands of students flooding into the Houston schools," Jean Becker, chief of staff for George H.W. Bush, tells the Chronicle. "She knew that [the Houston Independent School District] was using this software program, and she's very excited about this program, so she wanted to make it possible for them to expand the use of this program."

While Becker acknowledged that the former first lady is "obviously an enthusiastic supporter of her son," she insisted that she is also "genuinely supportive" of the work his company does and thought directing money to it would be a "great way" to help evacuee children.

Of course, young Neil isn't the only Bush at the receiving end of his family's good work. As the Los Angeles Times today, William H.T. Bush, an uncle of the sitting president, is in the process of raking in $2.7 million in cash and stock from the recent sale of a company that profited from the war in Iraq.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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