The biggest questions about Jeb Bush's tax returns

Rich candidate, poor candidate
Rich candidate, poor candidate


    Rich candidate, poor candidate


Rich candidate, poor candidate 01:17

Washington (CNN)The 33 years of tax returns that Jeb Bush released this week included plenty of financial information about the former Florida governor.

He's worth as much as $22 million, paid an average effective tax rate of 36% over the course of more than three decades and saw his net worth explode to as much as $28.5 million since he left Tallahassee in 2007.
Bush released more tax returns than any other presidential candidate in history -- a move in line with his effort to cast himself as a uniquely transparent politician. But for all the information that was revealed, there is still a lot to learn about how the son of one president and the brother of another made his money.
Here's a look at the biggest questions Bush's tax returns didn't answer.

    How did he make so much money?

    Paid speeches -- the campaign said Bush made about $10 million on the speaking circuit between 2007 and 2015 -- and big banks.
    Bush made an average of about $2 million annually during the six years he was a paid advisor at the financial services company Barclays. He averaged about $1.3 million each of the two years he advised the now the now-defunct investment bank Lehman Brothers, aides said.

    What'd he do to earn all that Wall Street cash?

    Bush traveled the country and abroad, primarily in Europe and Asia, advising existing clients for the banks on economic trends, helping them understand how government action in Washington could affect their bottom lines, a campaign aide said. Bush wasn't paid to pitch prospective clients or to lobby.
    In effect, Bush was kind of a translator, said Daniel Clifton, a partner at the investment research firm Strategas who didn't work with the former governor but is familiar with these kinds of Wall Street arrangements.
    "He's basically going around and meeting with investors and trying to give them an analytical framework for how Washington and global politics works," Clifton said. "These are people who are trained in finance. They're numerical people. They're interested in interest rates and cash flow and they're not attuned to this monster called Washington that could throw all that hard work out of the window."
    And remember, Clifton said, Washington was "the center of the universe for investors" for much of the time Bush was working for Lehman and Barclays as lawmakers passed a $700 billion bank bailout and a Wall Street reform bill before avoiding a fiscal cliff.
    Still, Bush has taken fire for working with banks during the financial meltdown and supporting the 2008 government bank bailout.

    How'd he earn the rest of his money?

    Consulting, mostly. After leaving the governor's office, Bush started the consulting business Jeb Bush and Associates, which his son, Jeb Bush Jr., later joined.
    The tax returns don't outline who paid Bush for his consulting services. Bush's campaign has named several clients including health care and online education businesses, and an asteroid mining company.
    But campaign aides say non-disclosure agreements prohibit public disclosure of all his clients.
    Some of the work that has been made public hasn't reflected well on the Republican presidential candidate.
    For instance, Bush made $15,000 a month and got stock options and a board membership at InnoVida, a building materials company whose chief executive went to prison for running $40 million investment fraud.
    Bush has since sold the consulting firm to his son, who continues to run it.
    In 2008, Bush formed Britton Hill Partners with a former Lehman banker. And in 2013, he was one of four partners in Britton Hill Holdings which raised money to invest in two energy companies and an aviation firm, an aide said.
    Bush sold his interest in both companies last year, but how much he made from the sale won't be made public until after he files and releases his 2014 tax return, an aide said.