CAP research uncovers more than $4 million in donations to U.S. senators and their fundraising arms from the DeVos family. Betsy DeVos is President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as the next U.S. secretary of education, and senators will vote on her nomination.
Washington, D.C. — New research from the Center for American Progress uncovers more than $4 million total in donations to U.S. senators and their fundraising arms from Betsy DeVos and her family members. DeVos, who is President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as the next U.S. secretary of education, is a longtime political donor and has funneled millions of dollars to Republican senators, re-election committees, and political action committees, or PACs. CAP’s analysis reveals a complete and up-to-date tally of her financial sway over the senators that will consider her nomination.
“For years, Betsy DeVos and the DeVos family have donated millions into right-wing causes and Republican political candidates at all levels of government. But it’s the DeVos donations to U.S. senators and their re-election organizations that will have the greatest payoff for Betsy DeVos because many of those donation recipients are poised to vote on her nomination to serve as U.S. secretary of education,” said Ulrich Boser, CAP Senior Fellow and co-author of the analysis.
Financial disclosures filed with the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, or HELP Committee—the committee that will consider and vote on the nomination before it moves to the full Senate—revealed that DeVos personally donated $5 million to all candidates. This figure includes donations to all candidates—federal, state, and local—in the last five years. CAP researchers examined her giving over a longer period of time and also included her relatives, including her husband, his siblings, their spouses, and his parents. The family has often worked in concert to bundle their donations on the same day.
The DeVos family has given more than $950,000 to 21 senators who will have the opportunity to vote on whether to confirm her. On top of those direct contributions, DeVos and her family also gave $2.25 million last fall to the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC tied to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and the family has donated more than $900,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee—which adds up to $4 million to Senate Republicans that will vote on her confirmation.
Of particular concern is a pattern of large gifts from the DeVos family to five members of the HELP Committee, all in the last two election cycles. Sen. Tim Scott (R–SC) has received $49,200 from the DeVos family and was a keynote speaker at DeVos’ American Federation for Children annual summit in May 2016. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) has received at least $70,200 from the DeVoses. Two other HELP committee members, Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), each have received $43,200 from the family. Newly elected Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), who has joined the HELP Committee, got $48,600 from the DeVos family in 2016.
CAP also found that Senate HELP Committee chair Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) received $4,500 from the Alticor Political Action Committee, or ALTIPAC. This PAC belongs to Alticor, the DeVos family company and parent company of Amway, the multilevel marketing company that fueled the DeVos family fortune. ALTIPAC receives nearly half of its funds from the DeVos family. In addition to Sen. Alexander, nine other HELP members have received donations from ALTIPAC.
Click here to read “Conflicts of DeVos: Donald Trump, Betsy DeVos, and a Pay-to-Play Nomination” by Ulrich Boser, Marcella Bombardieri, and CJ Libassi.
For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at gro.ssergorpnacirema@ssierpa or 202.478.6331.