Blog

Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12®

ESSA. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states. Read more from this blog.

Federal

Analysis Details DeVos Family’s Campaign Donations to Republican Senators

By Andrew Ujifusa — January 12, 2017 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

An analysis of campaign finance spending done by the left-leaning Center for American Progress states that Education Secretary-nominee Betsy DeVos and her family have given nearly $1 million directly to 21 senators over past election cycles. In addition, the analysis found ten senators on the Senate education committee have received donations from a political action committee controlled by the DeVos family, including Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the committee chairman.

The CAP analysis from Ulrich Boser, Marcella Bombardieri, and CJ Libassi also says that the DeVos family gave more than $3.1 million to two political action committess associated with GOP lawmakers, the Senate Leadership Fund and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Last month we highlighted direct donations to GOP senators from Betsy and Dick DeVos Jr., her husband, including five lawmakers on the Senate education commitee and other, mostly Republican, politicians. Democratic senators have requested more information from DeVos about her history of political donations, as well as her lobbying and advocacy on behalf of school choice programs. CAP, which has close ties to President Barack Obama’s administration, is not the only group to call for senators who have received DeVos campaign donations to recuse themselves from considering her nomination.

DeVos’ supporters, however, have argued that the same Democrats crying foul over DeVos had no similar qualms about Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, who was confirmed as Obama’s commerce secretary in 2013 and was a major Democratic campaign “bundler.” They also say Democrats who have taken donations from teachers’ unions are themselves tainted by conflicts of interest.

A spokesman for Betsy DeVos, Ed Patru, dismissed the idea that the donations highlighted by CAP represent a conflict of interest, citing Pritzker’s example. He also said the DeVos family donated heavily to Republican Party members out of shared principles, not self-interest.

“The DeVos family has been supporting Republicans for half a century, and it’s not because they carefully planned a moment in time when the most improbable political upset in history would present them with an opportunity to have a member of the family lead the Department of Education,” Patru said in an email.

The analysis cites information from Federal Election Commission and the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political donations.

In addition to donations from Betsy DeVos’ husband, from Doug DeVos, Helen DeVos, and other DeVos family members, the report studies donations from the political action committee for Alticor, which is the parent company of Amway (the company founded by Betsy DeVos’ father-in-law, Dick DeVos Sr.) and is controlled by the DeVos family. In addition to Alexander, who got $4,500 from the Alticor PAC, Senate education committee members to get Alticor campaign money are:


  • Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. ($3,000)
  • Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine ($4,000)
  • Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. ($1,000)
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah ($4,000)
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska ($1,000)
  • Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. ($2,000)
  • Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. ($3,000)
  • Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. ($1,000)
  • Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind. ($2,000)

The Alticor donations to these senators that CAP studied are from each federal election cycle from 1998 through 2016. Although they won’t be voting on DeVos’ nomination, GOP lawmakers on the House education committee to get Alticor PAC campaign cash in the 2016 campaign cycle include Reps. Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania, Mike Bishop of Michigan, Carlos Curbelo of Florida, Tim Walberg of Michigan, and Joe Wilson of South Carolina. These Alticor donations to House lawmakers aren’t included in CAP’s report.

CAP also reported that five Senate education committee members got a total of $254,400 from the DeVos family in direct donations, including:


  • Burr ($43,200)
  • Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La. ($70,200)
  • Murkowski ($43,200)
  • Scott ($49,200)
  • Young ($48,600)

Click the following hyperlink to see an Excel file with CAP’s findings on DeVos family contributions.


Follow us on Twitter at @PoliticsK12.

Related Tags:

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal White House Launches Hispanic Education Initiative Led by Miguel Cardona
President Joe Biden said his administration intends to address the "systemic causes" of educational disparities faced by Hispanic students.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona writes down and draws positive affirmations on poster board with students during his visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits students in New York City at P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school in the Bronx last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP
Federal Feds Add Florida to List of States Under Investigation Over Restrictions on Mask Mandates
The Education Department told the state Sept. 10 it will probe whether its mask rule is violating the rights of students with disabilities.
3 min read
Surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session on April 30, 2021, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session on April 30, 2021, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Federal How Biden Will Mandate Teacher Vaccines, Testing in Some States That Don't Require Them
President Joe Biden's COVID-19 plan will create new teacher vaccination and testing requirements in some states through worker safety rules.
4 min read
Nurse Sara Muela, left, administers the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to educator Rebecca Titus at a vaccination site setup for teachers and school staff at the Berks County Intermediate Unit in Reading, Pa., on March 15, 2021.
Nurse Sara Muela administers a COVID-19 vaccine to educator Rebecca Titus at a vaccination site for at the Berks County Intermediate Unit in Reading, Pa.
Matt Rourke/AP
Federal Biden Pushes Schools to Expand COVID-19 Testing, Get More Teachers Vaccinated
President Joe Biden set teacher vaccine requirements for federally operated schools as part of a new effort to drive down COVID's spread.
7 min read
President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room at the White House, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, in Washington. Biden is announcing sweeping new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant.
President Joe Biden in a speech from the White House announces sweeping new federal vaccine requirements and other efforts in an renewed effort to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.
Andrew Harnik/AP