“He’s a good kid,” President Bush said Friday, defending his son Neil, who has been accused by federal regulators of violating conflict of interest rules as a director of the failed Silverado Banking, Savings & Loan Assn.
“I have--what dad wouldn’t?--full confidence in the integrity and honor of my son,” the President said at a White House news conference, but he pledged that his own role as head of the government will not prevent a proper investigation.
Neil Bush, 35, the third of four sons of George and Barbara Bush, has been accused of failing to disclose his outside business connections with major borrowers at Silverado while he served as a director of the Denver thrift from August, 1985, until August, 1988. He has denied any wrongdoing and is challenging in an administrative proceeding the government’s allegations that he violated thrift rules.
A memorandum prepared by the enforcement staff of the Office of Thrift Supervision said that he had “willfully breached” his duty as a director by failing to inform the board that a major borrower at the S&L;, Kenneth M. Good, was going to pay $3 million for an 80% interest in Neil Bush’s oil exploration company.
The enforcement staff’s memorandum recommended barring Neil Bush and several other Silverado directors from the S&L; industry, but the federal agency later decided to bring lesser charges against the President’s son.
When asked Friday whether a government he heads can conduct a fair investigation of the situation, the President said that he believes it can.
“The system is going to work, whether it’s the President’s son or somebody else; and to suggest that it doesn’t undermines the basic integrity of the American process, the American system,” Bush said.
“I will stay out of anything to do with the investigation, but this is a fine young man,” the President continued. “Everyone that knows him and saw him testify (before the House Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on May 23) feels he’s a fine young man. But yet, the system’s got to go forward. I’m convinced that, if he has done something wrong, the system will so state. And, if (he) hasn’t, I hope it’s fair enough to say: ‘Hey, the boy did nothing wrong.’ ”
The President said that he had discussed the matter with his son “only in that broad parental way.”
“He would be the last to ask me in any way to get involved in any side or the other,” the President said. He challenged those who allege that misconduct has occurred “to speak up and say what it is.”
“It’s not been easy for him,” the President said. “He’s probably the most sensitive of our four boys--maybe the second most sensitive. . . . But he’s a good kid. And it’s not easy. He’s held his head up.”