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Did Betsy DeVos’ Husband Violate Her Pledge Not to Donate to Political Campaigns?

By Alyson Klein — October 30, 2017 1 min read
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During her confirmation hearing, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos promised not to contribute to political campaigns while in office. But her husband, Dick DeVos, a business executive, contributed to two Michigan political action committees, according to the Detroit News.

Dick DeVos donated to both the Michigan Chamber of Commerce PAC and to the Friends of West Michigan Business Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce PAC. Both PACs have since contributed to state and federal campaigns, the paper reported.

So does this mean that Betsy DeVos has broken her pledge? Her long-time associate, Greg McNeilly, says no, in part because Secretary DeVos did not give a lot of context on her pledge during the confirmation hearing.

“As it relates to Dick, I think there’s a big difference between (giving to) federal candidates and the rest of the world of political giving, and that was a distinction there wasn’t really an opportunity to make,” Greg McNeilly told the Detroit News. “But I think in his mind, that’s kind of where the line was drawn with her testimony.”

But Lonnie Scott, executive director of the Progress Michigan liberal advocacy group, called the contributions a “violation” of Betsy DeVos’ promise. And he told the Detroit News he wasn’t surprised.

“Did we expect her to keep her word in the first place? I think that’s the real question,” he said. “When you have spent literally millions of your own money to purchase legislators and specific policies, you’re not going to stop that once you can finally get in a position where you can influence it directly.”

More from the Detroit News here.

Vice President Mike Pence swears in Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington on Tuesday, as DeVos’ husband, Dick DeVos, watches. --Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

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