Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Betsy DeVos appointment means less cash for GOP

Betsy DeVos appointment means less cash for GOP:

Betsy DeVos appointment means less cash for GOP

For nearly three decades, Betsy and Dick DeVos have been reliable and generous benefactors to Republican candidates and conservative causes, donating tens of millions to hundreds of politicians and dozens of causes.
But that political patronage is about to come to an end if Betsy DeVos’ nomination as U.S. Secretary of Education is approved, as expected, by the U.S. Senate later this week.
“If I’m confirmed I will not be involved or engaged in political contributions and my husband will not be either,” DeVos told the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions during her confirmation hearing last week.
That one sentence caused Republicans, especially in Michigan, to check their campaign war chests’ bottom line and begin thumbing through their electronic Rolodexes to search for wealthy replacements for the two DeVos’ campaign cash.
Consider some of the DeVos giving over the years:
  • In 2016, Betsy DeVos gave the maximum amount of $1,000 each to 23 state House candidates and 19 of those people won their races.
  • Nine of the top 13 contributors to the state House Republican campaign committee in 2016 were DeVos family members, including Betsy and Dick, all giving $40,000 each.
  • Before her Senate confirmation hearing, Betsy DeVos had to provide a list of all of her campaign contributions to candidates and causes over the last five years. The list was 10 pages long, included $5.3 million in contributions to dozens of organizations and super PACs, 260 local, state and federal candidates and seven Republican contenders for President in 2016. President Donald Trump, who nominated DeVos for the Education slot, was not among the recipients.
  • In 2012, 8 members of the DeVos family donated $2 million to a group – Protecting Michigan Taxpayers – that had two objectives, making Michigan a Right to Work state, in which an employee cannot be compelled to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment, and to put a proposal on the ballot to repeal Michigan’s prevailing wage laws, which mandates union-scale wages on public construction projects. The right to work battle was won, while the prevailing wage law is still on the books. Betsy and Dick DeVos’ contributions to that effort was $750,000.
  • It’s been estimated by the Center for Responsive Politics that the DeVos family has given more than $20 million to federal candidates and causes since 1989 and the state-level giving boosts that total dramatically. In 2006, Dick DeVos dumped more than $35 million into his campaign for Governor before losing to Gov. Jennifer Granholm by a 56-42% margin.
  • The Lansing-based Michigan Campaign Finance Network, which tracks campaign spending, has tallied $82 million in political spending by the extended DeVos family since 1999 on the state and federal level as well as spending across many other states in the nation. And that total doesn't include money given to groups that don't have to disclose their donors.
“We like our partnerships with people who have like-minded values and we’ve had them for a long time,” said former Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, of Betsy and Dick DeVos. “It’s not going to have a monstrous impact, but at the same time, you’re going to have to go out and find other people now.”
Most Republicans believe the loss of Betsy and Dick DeVos’ political wallets won’t have a devastating effect on GOP causes. There are seven other DeVos family members who are frequent political contributors and they often contribute en masse to the same people and causes.
The DeVos family is headed up by Richard and Helen DeVos and the family fortune is derived from Richard DeVos’ and Jay Van Andel’s creation of direct-sales giant Amway. Richard DeVos’ worth is listed at $5.3 billion and he’s 88th on the Forbes list of wealthiest Americans. He also owns the National Basketball Association’s Orlando Magic. The extended family – four children Dick, Doug, Dan and Cheri – are still heavily involved in the family business.
When U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, asked DeVos during the hearing how much the DeVos family has contributed politically over the years, she replied, “I wish I could give you that number, I don’t know.”
“I have heard that number is $200 million,” Sanders asked.
“Collectively over the entire family, that’s possible,” she replied.
“They divvy it up pretty evenly,” said Craig Mauger, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, which tracks campaign spending. “The biggest givers are Richard and Helen and Dick and Betsy, but the whole family gives politically.”
Saul Anuzis, former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, which has been a big recipient of the DeVos family largesse, said while Betsy, who also served as Betsy DeVos appointment means less cash for GOP:

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