President Bush's son Neil says it would have "been much easier" to sign a civil decree sought by savings and loan regulators over his bank dealings and "move on in terms of just the quality of my life."
In the consent decree, sought several months ago, Bush would have agreed to abstain from further banking activities--without acknowledging any wrongdoing.
In an interview published in today's editions of the Washington Post, the 35-year-old Bush said his decision to seek full exoneration rather than sign the decree has resulted in negative publicity that has "dominated my life for six months" and also may help Democrats gain political advantage against his father.
In an eight-page statement issued over the weekend and in a series of interviews, Bush contends he has done nothing wrong in connection with the failure of Silverado Savings & Loan and maintains he has become a "political football"--a victim of political "opportunism" and "press sensationalism."
He said he is fed up with sitting on the sideline while being publicly attacked for his savings and loan dealings and is coming out of his "cage" to defend himself.
Bush said he decided to fight "because I know I haven't done anything wrong."
He said he is looking forward to a public hearing on his case in September before an administrative law judge in Denver that he says will offer an unbiased, quasi-legal forum for his defense.
"I've been kind of like a little caged-in animal in an unsanitary zoo," Bush told the Post in an interview in his Denver office. "Now my cage is open and I'm telling people . . . what my side of the story is. And I feel good about it."
Bush conceded in the Post interview that he got "an incredibly sweet deal" in the form of a $100,000 loan from a Denver investor; Bush wasn't required to repay the loan if the oil business it was intended to benefit did not turn a profit. But he said the loan was "totally unrelated" to his work as a director of Silverado, even though the investor who made the investment loan later was granted a line of credit from Silverado.