From the time she was nominated for the position of the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos has stirred up quite a bit of controversy. Before taking on the role, many argued that such a wealthy individual did not have the experience and relevant viewpoint to serve in such an important position. Recently, DeVos and her family have made headlines once again.
For years, Betsy and her husband Dick have headed the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation while also strongly supporting the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative and the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, founded by Betsy DeVos’ parents. These causes have been pivotal to the policies deployed throughout the Trump administration. As a whole, the couple tends to support free-market conservative organizations. “This commitment to protecting and promoting freedom is an animating core of their worldview,” according to Greg McNeilly of the Windquest Investment Group. In addition to conservative organizations, they also support humanitarian organizations worldwide. Between Dick and Betsy, the money connections and contributions to various organizations are significant. Between their foundations, family, and the couple themselves, the DeVos family have many financial connections.
In the case of Janusv. AFSCME, the Supreme Court found that public-sector unions cannot collect agency fees from nonmembers covered by collective bargaining agreements. As a result of the decision, many feel that there could be a big drop in union membership, particularly within teachers’ unions. One of the largest backings of this decision was the My Pay, My Say project, based in Mackinac, Michigan by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The project encourages public-sector union members to keep their money and stay out of unions. The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family foundation and DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative are the top donors to the Mackinac Center and have given hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past two decades.
In another supreme court case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that a baker could decline to make a same-sex wedding cake due to his own personal convictions and religious beliefs. The defense for this case was Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBT-rights group which also happens to be funded in large part by the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation (now the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative). In addition, the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation has given at least $1 million to the cause as well.
Another instance revolves around Bethany Christian Services, which is one of the largest adoption agencies in the nation. During the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy, the organization took custody of some of the children who were separated from their families. Brian DeVos, a cousin of Dick DeVos, served as a senior vice president for Bethany until early 2018. Even more so, the foundations supported by the DeVos family have given more than $6 million to Bethany over the past few decades.
Finally, President Trump recently nominated Neil Gorsuch as the next Supreme Court judge, due in large part to a short list provided by the Federalist Society. The Federalist Society consists of more than 50,000 lawyers which are traditionally very conservative and are against “liberal orthodoxy”. The DeVos Urban Initiative has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Federalist Society throughout the years, once again demonstrating the DeVos family’s political influence.