Trump Picks Betsy DeVos, Daughter-In-Law Of Billionaire Amway Cofounder, For Education Secretary
Donald Trump continues to add to his cabinet. On Wednesday the president-elect announced his choice for education secretary: Betsy DeVos, a leader of the school choice movement and a prominent GOP donor from Michigan.
The daughter-in-law of Amway cofounder Richard DeVos — who Forbes estimates is worth $5.1 billion — she is currently chairman of the American Federation for Children. The organization promotes school vouchers, scholarship tax credit programs and education savings accounts. Its affiliated PAC supports pro-school choice candidates at the state level.
“Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and passionate education advocate,” Trump said in a statement. “Under her leadership, we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families.”
“I am honored to accept this responsibility to work with the President-elect on his vision to make American education great again,” DeVos said in a statement. “The status quo in education is not acceptable. Together, we can work to make transformational change that ensures every student in America has the opportunity to fulfill his or her highest potential.”
The DeVos family have been ardent GOP supporters for years. Richard DeVos launched Amway in 1959 and helped grow it into a $9.5 billion (revenues) direct-selling giant that does business in more than 100 countries today. In 1991 he bought the Orlando Magic; last year he purchased a minority stake in the Chicago Cubs. But DeVos has also invested heavily in politics.
He was the finance chair of the Republican National Committee in the 1980s and publicly donated at least $2.9 million in 2016 — all to Republican groups — according to Center for Responsive Politics data. According some reports (including Jane Mayer’s book, Dark Money) he has quietly given hundreds of millions over the past four decades to conservative causes.
Betsy and her husband, Richard Jr., have proudly carried on the tradition. She chaired the Michigan Republican Party from 1996 to 2000 and again from 2003 and 2005; Richard Jr. unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2006. The couple donated at least $2.8 million this cycle — again only to conservatives — including Right to Rise, a pro-Jeb super PAC. It appears they never publicly came out in support of Trump prior to the election.
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