The Bass Brothers

Lee, Ed, Sid, and Robert Bass have been fortunate from early on.  It has been estimated that their uncle Sid Richardson, who UT has an auditorium in his name, was worth around $800 million. Following in their father's footsteps, each of the four attended Yale University; Ed and George W. Bush were classmates and friends there. The brothers used their inheritance to acquaint themselves with those in power; they got to know the powerful Richard Rainwater by having him manage their family fortune.

Based out of Forth Worth, they know others from the Metroplex. Tom Hicks proposed in 1998 that UTIMCO invest $20 million in the Bass Brothers Enterprises through the limited partnership of Prime Enterprises II. This wasn't the Bass brothers' first foray into the university setting. In 1991 Lee donated $20 million to his alma mater Yale to revitalize the Western Civilization program. This was the largest single gift in the history of the school, and it was too political for Yale. Bass used the gift as leverage, thinking it gave him a say in the hiring of faculty and the setting of curriculum, where he feared that "multiculturalism" was pushing out the 'classics' in favor "of Toni Morrison and Malcolm X.1" Hence, the largest donation ever made to Yale was basically a way to ensure that the Ivory tower stayed that color. After Lee sought to participate in hiring decisions, Yale gave the money back. To ensure that the family name would not be dragged through the mud, Perry Bass (Yale '37) offered $500 million to the school to release a report saying that his son did nothing wrong. However, Yale President Richard C. Levin turned his back on the deal even at a time when the school needed the money.2

The Bass brothers pumped $210,000 into Bush's gubernatorial campaigns, via their PAC's (Political Action Committees) and their personal donations of roughly $273,000. The billionaire Bass family is Bush's number 5 career patron. As Governor, Bush appointed Lee Bass as Chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). Amazingly, Bush later received $202,000 from the organization. TPWD made news when it was found to be passing out brochures at park entrances that contained tobacco and alcohol advertisements. TPWD also granted permits for their land that allowed hunters to make money from killing wild deer on Texas lands.

Back in the 1980's, George W. Bush was put on the board of directors at Harken Oil. In 1988, an oil venture to Bahrain was proposed. With Bush Sr. president at the time, the virtually unknown Texas company had beat out huge oil conglomerate Amoco for exclusive rights to exploration, development, transportation, etc. Even though Harken had no international experience and little capital for such a huge venture, Bahraini oil was theirs for the taking. Many thought that Harken was moribund, and without this contract they more than likely would have sunk. Harken got its big contract but couldn't finance it. The Basses then stepped into the picture by volunteering $25 million. Coincidentally, both were on Bush Sr.'s 1988 elite fundraising squad. Bush Sr.'s squad was the model for Bush's "Pioneers," to which Lee Bass belonged. This deal not only kept Bush's company afloat, but it was also a way for Bahrain to kiss up to the President.

So, who wanted to buy Bush's high risk Harken stock?

In 1990, when George W. Bush was on the board of directors at Harken, he was told that the company was going under. He sold over 200,000 shares of Harken stock weeks before the value plummeted. The overall gain was $848,560; roughly $600,000 of this went towards buying a piece of the Texas Rangers. So, who doled out $850k for a company that could potentially go under at any point directly after the sale? A search of company memos returned only one name, and they can't be sure to whom or what it refers- naturally, the name is "Lee."

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