Brentwood for Bush

In tomorrow's Times Calendar section, Anne-Marie O'Connor has a feature on President Bush's man in Brentwood, Bradford Freeman. He tells the story that his brother Russell got to be ambassador to Belize, but all Freeman got for bringing in lots of money (as California finance chairman) for the last Bush campaign was a cat from the ranch in Texas.

Self-deprecating humor is elemental to this self-styled Brentwood Brahmin of the Republican Raj...Freeman, a youthful 62, did get a personal visit at his home from Bush, who "put his arm around me and said, 'Bradley' — the president calls me Bradley — 'I've got ideas people. Just raise money,' " Freeman recalls with mock chagrin — and perhaps a touch of disingenuousness.

That's because membership in this elite fundraising fraternity opens the doors to an exclusive world of influence, perks and business connections that can be far more beneficial than many federal appointments.

Freeman's pride in his fundraising prowess was evident on a recent evening at his Brentwood digs, which — like his British Post-Impressionist paintings and private Falcon 2000 jet — are the trappings of Freeman, Spogli & Co., the $2-billion-plus venture capital firm he manages with Ron Spogli, Bush's classmate at Harvard Business School. His $10-million mansion is immaculately appointed, its beamed ceilings and orchid displays set off by manly hunting-lodge touches: antique fish lithographs, a mounted blow-up of Freeman and Bush at the president's Texas ranch.

Freeman created a mini-sensation in Republican circles when he squired Elizabeth Taylor to a State Department dinner in 2002.

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