Wednesday, December 21, 2016

DeVos heads into confirmation with a megadonor's advantage - POLITICO

DeVos heads into confirmation with a megadonor's advantage - POLITICO:

DeVos heads into confirmation with a megadonor's advantage
Billionaire Betsy DeVos gives big to politicians — including some senators who will vote on her confirmation.

Billionaire Betsy DeVos has been unabashed about using her wealth to advance her own agenda. “We expect a return on our investment,” she once wrote about her family’s massive political contributions.

After giving millions of dollars to politicians over the past two decades, she now heads into her Senate confirmation hearing for education secretary with a clear advantage: DeVos and her husband, Dick, have donated to the campaigns of 17 senators who will consider her nomination — four of whom sit on the Senate education committee that oversees the process.

Big donors often get plum government jobs. But DeVos’ contributions to the lawmakers who will decide her fate stand out in a year in which President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to “drain the swamp” of Washington politics.

Education committee members Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) have all accepted money — collectively, $50,000 — from DeVos and her husband since 2010. In that same time period, the couple contributed a total of more than $160,000 to senators who will consider Betsy DeVos’ nomination, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

 “It’s just another reflection of the distortion of our politics due to massive campaign contributions,” said Robert Weissman, president of the watchdog group Public Citizen, who said he finds DeVos’ political contributions troubling. “People who receive campaign contributions from her are far less likely to scrutinize her than people who have not.”

DeVos and her husband together made about $2.7 million in political contributions in 2016, including donations to Republican Senate leadership PACs, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Over the past two and half decades, the couple donated more than $7.7 million to Republican candidates and parties across the country, the analysis found. The center also examined donations by DeVos’ entire extended family, and found more than $20 million in contributions to Republican candidatesDeVos heads into confirmation with a megadonor's advantage - POLITICO: