Sunday, March 26, 2006

The First Grandma Sparks Debate

The Associated Press (via WaPo) is reporting that Barbara Bush, Dubya’s momma, has ”earmarked” a charitable donation, one intended “for education and specifically for the thousands of students flooding into the Houston schools”. Moreover, the “money was donated to the Bush-Clinton Houston Hurricane Relief Fund”. Oh yeah, the “earmark” is for her son’s company.
Two years ago, the Houston school district board wrestled with conflict of interest concerns over the Ignite program. Neil Bush had helped raise $115,000 for the district's philanthropic fund from donors who insisted the money be spent on his company's software.

The district accepted the donations and used them to pay half the costs of new Ignite software, about $10,000 per school.

Currently, Houston public schools use 15 Ignite programs and the Houston area has 40 programs, said company president Ken Leonard.
There are, it seems to me, two distinct issues at play here. On one hand, there’s an appearance of a conflict of interest (count on the Left to emphasize this); on the other hand, this is a private donation, which means that the concept of individual liberty ought to be considered (perhaps the Right will emphasize this, although I’ve not seen it yet).

So, what say you? Is this a matter of personal choice, mutual aggrandizement or something else entirely?