Friday, January 20, 2017

DeVos ethics review complete – but controversy isn’t - The Washington Post

DeVos ethics review complete – but controversy isn’t - The Washington Post:

DeVos ethics review complete – but controversy isn’t

The long-awaited ethics review for Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos has been completed, clearing the way for the Senate to vote on the nominee for education secretary, despite the objection of Democrats.
The Office of Government Ethics, an agency that examines nominees’ financial disclosures and resolves potential conflicts of interest, released its report for the controversial education pick. Ethics Director Walter M. Shaub Jr. had said a full vetting of extremely wealthy individuals, such as DeVos, could take weeks, if not months, much to the chagrin of Senate Democrats who wanted the review in hand before this week’s confirmation hearings. (See the full report below).
Despite Democrats’ pressing Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, for another round of questioning, the Republican leader has scheduled a vote on DeVos for Jan. 24. Her critics say Alexander is rushing what should be a careful examination of someone they say is unqualified to lead the nation’s education system.
Eli Zupnick, a spokesman for Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, said the senator is concerned that members will not have a chance to have their ethics concerns and questions answered before the vote.
“Ms. DeVos and her family have incredibly complicated and opaque financial entanglements and staff is now reviewing all of her and her family’s holdings that have conflicts with her role as Secretary of Education,” he said. “Senator Murray has also not yet received answers to her questions about missing information in Ms. DeVos’ Committee financial disclosure. And Committee Democrats have sent Ms. DeVos a number of reasonable questions for the record that she committed to answer and that they expect clear and complete responses to.”​​​
Alexander has stressed that DeVos has taken steps to prove herself, including answering questions for nearly four hours and meeting individually with committee members.
“We know that Betsy DeVos is a passionate defender of improving opportunities for low-income children who has committed to implement the law fixing No Child Left Behind as Congress wrote it, support public schools, and work to protect all children and students from discrimination and ensure they are educated in a safe environment,” said Margaret Atkinson, a spokeswoman for Alexander.
DeVos has no professional experience in public schools, but she has lobbied for decades to expand charter schools and taxpayer-funded vouchers for private and religious schools. Her inexperience proved to be a liability at Tuesday’s hearing, as Senate Democrats grilled her on education policy questions that she had trouble answering.
At the hearing, DeVos pledged to resolve any conflicts of interest the office identified, a commitment she reiterated in a letter she sent Thursday to the ethics office of the Education Department. DeVos said she has resigned from a dozen foundations with education goals, including All Children Matter and Great Lakes Education Foundation. She is, however, allowed DeVos ethics review complete – but controversy isn’t - The Washington Post: