Last night at the Harvard Club the torch was passed at the helm of the American Swiss Foundation. Ambassador Faith Whittlesey stepped down; Ambassador Mercer Reynolds took over as new chairman of the New York based organization. Whittlesey modestly introduced Reynolds as “a business man from Ohio” who was responsible for raising funds for George W. Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004.
What she didn’t say: Reynolds is the man who literally made Bush.
In 1984, the financier bought Bush’s ailing company Arbusto Energy. It saved the young oilman from bankruptcy. Reynolds hired Bush as president of his own oil company, Spectrum 7 for an annual salary of $75’000.
A couple of years later Reynolds served Bush the possibility to buy the Texas Rangers, a baseball team. The price tag for his share: $600’000. Bush connections – his father was U.S. president – helped to convince the city of Arlington, Texas, to build a new stadium with taxpayer’s money. The stadium increased the value of the team tremendously. Bush later sold his share in the Rangers for a whooping $16 million.
Once in the White House Bush would not forget his mentor. In 2001, he named Reynolds Ambassador to Switzerland and Lichtenstein. In 2003 Reynolds stepped down to push Bush’s re-election effort.
With Reynolds at the rudder the American Swiss Foundation is getting a great wealth of connections.