Sunday, January 15, 2017

How Betsy DeVos Used God and Amway to Take Over Michigan Politics - POLITICO Magazine

How Betsy DeVos Used God and Amway to Take Over Michigan Politics - POLITICO Magazine:

How Betsy DeVos Used God and Amway to Take Over Michigan Politic
With her nomination as education secretary, a powerful political clan will bring its overtly Christian agenda to Washington.


On election night 2006, Dick DeVos, the bronzed, starched 51-year-old scion of Michigan’s wealthiest family, paced to a lectern in the dim ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel in Lansing to deliver the speech that every candidate dreads.

The Michigan gubernatorial race that year had been a dogfight of personal attacks between DeVos, the Republican nominee, and Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm. Gloomy, bleached-out b-roll of shuttered factories in anti-Granholm ads made the governor’s sunny economic promise that “You’re gonna be blown away” sound less like an aspiration than a threat. Anti-DeVos ads cut closer to the bone, with one depicting a cartoon DeVos cheering a freighter hauling Michigan jobs to China. It was an unsubtle reference to DeVos’ time as president of Amway, the direct-sales behemoth his family co-founded and co-owns, when he eliminated jobs in Michigan while expanding dramatically in Asia. DeVos ended up personally spending $35 million on the race—the most expensive campaign in Michigan history—and when the votes came in, lost by a crushing 14 points.

At the Lansing Sheraton, the mood was grim. “If we aren’t going to be able to serve in this way, I look forward to the ways we can,” DeVos told his glum supporters. Behind him on the ballroom risers stood his family; closest to him was his wife, Betsy, choking back tears.

Though dressed in a blue skirt-suit, the uniform of a first ladyship that was not to be, Betsy DeVos was never a political accessory. Anyone who understood Michigan politics knew she had long been the more political animal of the pair. It was Betsy, not Dick, who had chaired the Michigan Republican Party; Betsy, who had served as a member of the Republican National Committee; Betsy, whose name was once floated to succeed Haley Barbour as head of the RNC; Betsy, who had directed a statewide ballot campaign to legalize public funding of religious schools; Betsy, who, as a college freshman, traveled to Ohio and Indiana to volunteer for Gerald Ford’s presidential campaign. She was a skilled and seasoned How Betsy DeVos Used God and Amway to Take Over Michigan Politics - POLITICO Magazine:

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