See Betsy DeVos' Donations to Senators Who Will Oversee Her Confirmation
President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for U.S. secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, is best known in the education policy world as a school choice advocate. But on the national political stage, she and her husband, Dick DeVos Jr., the son of the founder of Amway, are perhaps best known as big-time donors to Republican candidates and groups.
In the 2016 election year, for example, the two gave $2.7 million to Republican candidates and nothing to Democrats, as we reported earlier. But their campaign-donation record goes back much further. And it includes contributions to several senators who may vote on Betsy DeVos' confirmation in the Senate education committee and subsequently on the Senate floor—more on that below. We haven't seen any campaign finance records, however, showing they donated to Trump's presidential campaign.
A Michigan resident who's been a major player in state politics for over two decades, Betsy DeVos is not the first individual for whom issues of campaign donations and Cabinet appointments have mixed. For example, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny S. Pritzker has given money to Democratic Party candidates and causes for many years and was a campaign-donation "bundler" for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012; she became President Obama's commerce secretary in 2013.
We took a look at various candidates and causes DeVos and her husband have given to over the years to those at different levels of government who are connected to education in some way. We relied on information from the National Institute on Money in State Politics, the Federal Election Commission, and the Center for Responsive Politics. It's important to remember that several other members of the DeVos family have given to candidates and groups over the years. We've tried to focus on recent donations by Betsy DeVos, along with some by her husband, although the donations listed here may not represent a complete picture of their political contributions made directly to candidates.
That's in part because, in at least a few cases, campaign finance records provided to the Federal Election Commission do not clearly distinguish between Dick DeVos Sr., Dick DeVos Jr., and Dick DeVos III. We have tried to single out only those donation records in which Dick DeVos Jr., Betsy DeVos' husband, is specifically named. That may not capture all of his donations. We also focused mostly, but not exclusively, on the couple's individual contributions made directly to candidates, not to political action committees or parties. And we highlighted donations dating from the mid-2000s onward, which does not capture the full breadth of the DeVoses' political giving.
Big Edge to the GOP
Betsy DeVos herself has given nearly $2.7 million in political donations to 370 individuals and causes over the past 20 years through 819 total contributions, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Just over $2 million of that has gone to Republican candidates or causes, while a very, very small amount went to Democratic candidates or groups.
Here's a basic breakdown of who got what share of those donations—and yes, that tiny blue sliver represents the $8,000 she's given to Democrats:
The National Institute on Money in State Politics has a rundown of campaign donations Betsy DeVos has made as an individual.