The GOP's New Godfather

In Doug Wead's dining room, there's a photograph of George Bush cradling Wead's son Joshua. On August 24, there was a Bush son in Doug Wead's living room.

Neil Bush, the son who has had to pay $50,000 for his part in the collapse of the Silverado S&L in Denver, was treated like a high priest of free enterprise during a private reception there. That evening, Neil was scheduled to appear at a private fund raiser for the state GOP. (I got him to come in," says Wead.) First, however, Neil Bush stopped at Wead's house off Shea Boulevard in Scottsdale for an even more private meeting with Wead and friends.

Neil took the opportunity to complain about "liberal media bias" and to ask the group of 30 to "give Dad the tools" by ousting the Democratic Congress.

The guest list included several Arizonans who can do Wead some good in the District 6 race. One was Cathi Herrod, the leader of Arizona's chapter of the well-organized moral-crusading group Concerned Women of America.

Another guest was Jack Metzger, head of the state's cattle growers. Metzger runs a ranch someplace between Flagstaff and nowhere, but he's no hick. He's an articulate person who spends much of his time representing cattlemen's interests in Washington, D.C. The chance to complain directly to the president's son about environmental regulations was a "fantastic opportunity," in Metzger's words. (That doesn't automatically put Metzger in Wead's camp, however. The week before, he contributed $250 to opponent Phil MacDonnell.)

The presidential son is getting a pretty good deal, too. On shaky ground here in the States because of bad publicity over the Silverado thing, he's been doing business lately with John Godzich, Arizona's GOP finance chairman. Godzich proudly told the little gathering at Wead's house that Neil spoke before 25,000 of Godzich's people in Paris in June. (Back-scratching note: Doug Wead also spoke to Godzich's troops overseas around that time. Six months earlier, John Godzich got to sit on the dais next to "Humanitarian of the Year" Ronald Reagan at Doug Wead's "National Charity Awards Dinner" in Phoenix; Neil Bush was one of the speakers.)

Godzich urged the gathering at Wead's house to "put your money where your mouth is" by supporting the GOP. "I've put as much money as I can into the party--I gave $50,000 to the party in May," he told the other guests. "I've been a defender of free enterprise for a long time. You have to defend it--or lose it."

When Godzich speaks, people generally listen. Though relatively few people even in the GOP know much about him, 42-year-old John Godzich is a huge presence in the District 6 race.

His younger brother Leo, 33, is an associate pastor at Phoenix First Assembly of God Church, well-known among the Valley's religious right for leading the opposition to Phoenix's gay-rights ordinance. (Leo Godzich was profiled by Philip Martin in the May 20, 1992, issue of New Times.) Another Godzich brother, Dan, 30, worked for Wead in the White House and now is on the Wead campaign staff. But John Godzich has the strongest ties to Doug Wead.

Wead first registered to vote in Arizona on January 27, 1991, exactly the same day as John Godzich. Wead shares offices with Godzich, lives in his former house, is married to one of his former employees and works as a consultant and motivational speaker for Godzich. To the ire of many Republicans, Wead was the only congressional candidate who got a prime seat on the dais during a springtime fund raiser for John McCain that starred Barry Goldwater and George Bush. The seat came courtesy of a $50,000 check by John Godzich to the party's financially ailing building fund.

So, who is John Godzich? Seven hundred French people who were learning to say "yee-hah" at a Rustler's Rooste steak fry on August 15 on South Mountain certainly know him.

They're part of the 24,000 active distributors in Groupement Europeen de Professionnels du Marketing, John Godzich's multilevel marketing network. The past fiscal year, says Godzich, the company did $130 million of business.

John Godzich was born into a Polish family displaced by World War II. He grew up in a French mining area, the second of five boys in a family that always dreamed of moving to America and finally did in 1962. They lived in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and John went to school at New York University. After dabbling in leftist politics, he says, he wound up working as a translator for the State Department. He eventually got into Amway and returned to France to build a marketing network of his own.

Now he shuttles between France and Arizona, where he has an 8,000-square-foot home on Easy Street, east of Apache Junction. It's got a built-in chapel.

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Ward Harkavy
Contact: Ward Harkavy