Only lawyers may make ex parte communications to the Commisioner of the Patent and Trademark Office.  Governor Jeb Bush is not a lawyer, he is the brother of the man who appoints the Commissioner of the Patent and Trademark Office.  According to this Washington Post story (additional background here), he wrote a letter to Assistant Commisioner which suggested that the PTO find for Bacardi in a matter.  According to the article, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has now held that the letter was a permissible status inquiry, and not advocacy.  The decision is not available as of yet through the TTAB.

Given that Bacardi had contributed $50,000 to Gov. Bush’s re-election campaign two weeks prior to the letter being written, that was an expensive status inquiry.