Bush fundraiser quits over Rubio attacks

Top Florida fundraiser Brian Ballard has quit Jeb Bush’s campaign over its decision to go negative on Marco Rubio, Politico reports.

“The campaign has become negative, one that is about attacking and trying to bring down Marco Rubio. And that doesn’t sit well — not only with me, but with anyone who knows the two,” Ballard told the D.C.-based news organization.

“Marco’s a friend of mine. I didn’t sign up for a campaign that was going to be negative and attack a bright star of the party’s future. It doesn’t make sense. I’m over it. And I’m done.”

Ballard was unhappy about Bush’s decision in last week’s Republican debate to attack Rubio over his Senate voting record.

He foreshadowed today’s announcement in a comment to The New York Times, in a story published last week after the CNBC debate.

“There’s a lot of folks, and I’m included, that didn’t think the attack on Marco was the right thing to do, and it kind of put Jeb in a weird spot,” the Tallahassee lobbyist told the Times last week. “It was uncomfortable to watch, and I don’t think it served Jeb’s campaign well.”

Politico reports that Ballard stopped raising money for Bush three months ago but decided to announce he was quitting after the campaign called Rubio “the GOP Obama” in a presentation to donors at a Houston retreat.

The Bush team’s PowerPoint presentation — which the candidate claims not to have known about until it was leaked to the press — attacks Rubio over his inexperience and financial troubles.

Ballard has given $20,000 to the pro-Bush super-PAC Right to Rise and the maximum personal contribution of $2700, according to Federal Election Commission records. These are small amounts in Bushworld where checks for six and even seven figures are commonplace.

But it is Ballard’s abilities as a fundraiser — collecting checks from friends and professional associates — for which he is reportedly most valued.

The Bush campaign and Ballard have been contacted for comment.

Jonathan Swan