President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education brought the DeVos family—the Michiganders behind the marketing giant Amway—under the national microscope. The National Institute on Money in State Politics profiled the family in 2014 after they took full advantage of an increase in Michigan’s campaign contribution limits. Betsy DeVos is one of the leading donors in that family, and a closer look at her $2 million in state-level contributions since 2000 reveals her to be a loyal conservative donor with a keen interest in school choice issues.
The partisan breakdown of Betsy’s contributions is comparable to the rest of her family: she gives almost exclusively to Republican candidates and party committees. Betsy DeVos gave $1 million to Republican state party committees, and 81 percent of the $486,786 she gave to state candidates went to Republicans. An additional 17 percent went to nonpartisan judicial candidates.
Betsy DeVos is widely recognized for her support of school vouchers and charter schools; her activism is matched by substantial contributions to school choice organizations. She gave $170,000 to the Great Lakes Education Project, a group formed by Betsy and her husband, Richard (Dick) DeVos, Jr., which has been the sixth-most-prolific independent spender in Michigan since since 2010. She chairs the American Federation for Children and gave $195,000 to the American Federation for Children Action Fund. Other members of the DeVos family gave $350,000 to these two school choice advocacy groups.
Betsy DeVos also gave $125,000 to Protecting Michigan Taxpayers, a ballot measure committee that successfully defeated a 2012 measure that would have created a constitutional right to collective bargaining in Michigan.