Washington (CNN)A company linked to Jeb Bush blocked a group serving the blind and disabled from landing a government contract, a revelation that could cast Bush's corporate work in an unfavorable light as he prepares for a possible White House run.
Bush-linked company blocked government contract for blind, disabled
The Democratic super PAC American Bridge unearthed the move in a lawsuit from 2010, when Bush sat on the board of Clothesline Holdings, a New York-based holding company.
The suit against the Veterans Affairs Department, filed by one of Clothesline Holdings' subsidiaries, successfully argued that the VA improperly awarded a laundry services contract to a non-profit that helps find jobs for the severely disabled.
The subsidiary, Angelica Textile Services, in order to protect its own contract, contended that the VA did not follow proper guidelines when awarding the work to the non-profit. In 2010, a U.S. Federal Claims Court judge agreed, calling the contracting officer's actions "arbitrary and capricious." He then blocked the VA from contracting with the non-profit.
The court action ensured that the National Industries for the Severely Handicapped, or NISH, did not get the contract to do laundry at six VA hospitals, a non-profit official told CNN.
The win in the corporate world, which got little media coverage at the time, could become a political liability as Bush moves toward a presidential campaign and his corporate work draws heightened scrutiny.
Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell seemed to suggest that the former Florida governor didn't have much to do with the litigation.
"Governor Bush does not recall this specific case, nor as a board member did he direct litigation as part of the company's day to day operations. It is notable that a federal court enabled the company to continue to provide services to veterans and found that President Obama's Department of Veterans Affairs did not preserve the integrity of the procurement process," she said, noting Bush sat on the board between 2008 and 2012.
Ben Ray, a spokesman for American Bridge, said Bush's corporate work won't sit well with voters.
"It's about his values and his priorities and best I can tell since he left office, and maybe before, that was get rich," Ray said. "The only thing they cared about was profit and if that meant that they had to fight some blind and disabled people they were willing to do it."