Friday, February 24, 2017

Betsy DeVos is Publicly Polite, but a Political Fighter - The New York Times

Betsy DeVos is Publicly Polite, but a Political Fighter - The New York Times:

Betsy DeVos is Publicly Polite, but a Political Fighter

Hours before President Trump rescinded a federal policy allowing transgender students to use the school bathrooms that match their gender identities, his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, met with a representative of gay and transgender employees at the Education Department to warn of what was coming.

In her presence, an aide assured the employee that, as was widely reported, Ms. DeVos had resisted the move, according to people briefed on the Wednesday meeting. Yet she gave no public sign that there had been a rift within the Trump administration, or that she had come up short. She joined in the announcement of the new policy, and on Thursday, she told the annual Conservative Political Action Conference that the earlier federal guidelines were “a very huge example of the Obama administration’s overreach.”
But people who have known and watched Ms. DeVos through the years — as a leading advocate of charter schools and school vouchers, a former Michigan Republican Party chairwoman and a major Republican donor — warn against thinking that she will be a meek team player. She may be publicly gracious, even in the face of setbacks, they say. But in her home state, she earned a reputation as a driven, relentless and effective political fighter, using her family’s vast fortune to reward allies and punish foes, and working behind the scenes to pass legislation and unseat lawmakers who opposed her.
“In Michigan politics, she instilled fear in a lot of people, and it’s not just because she’s a billionaire,” said Mike Cox, a Republican and former state attorney general. “I found Betsy to be very determined, steely, when she sets her mind on a goal.”
Ms. DeVos, who declined to be interviewed for this article, arrived in Washington with no experience inside government and very little history with the president, and she took over a department whose upper ranks are mostly vacant. In the argument over transgender bathroom access, that put her at a disadvantage against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a former senator with decades of Washington experience and connections who has long had Mr. Trump’s ear.
But critics and admirers alike say they expect her to learn the ropes, build Betsy DeVos is Publicly Polite, but a Political Fighter - The New York Times:
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