January 6, 2017 / Press Releases

End Citizens United and Every Voice to Senators That Received DeVos Contributions – Recuse Yourselves

For Immediate Release
Friday, January 6, 2017
Contact: Adam Bozzi, adam@endcitizensunited.org

End Citizens United and Every Voice members around the country demand recusal of Committee Members who have personally benefited from DeVos donations

DeVos, a zealous opponent of campaign finance safeguards, represents the worst of a rigged Washington system

 

Today, money-in-politics reform groups End Citizens United and Every Voice kicked off a grassroots campaign with a petition calling on Senators who received contributions from Betsy DeVos to recuse themselves from voting on her nomination for Secretary of Education.

Five Senators who sit on the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee overseeing the confirmation hearing have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from the DeVos family.  They are Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana ($70,200), Tim Scott of South Carolina ($49,200), Todd Young of Indiana ($48,600), Lisa Murkowski of Alaska ($43,200), and Richard Burr of North Carolina ($43,200). [1][2][3][4][5]

DeVos and her family have funneled more than $20 million to Republican campaigns, their super PACs, and their dark money allies across the country. [6]

DeVos has said of her donations that she has “decided…to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence.  Now I simply concede the point.  They are right.  We do expect some things in return.” [7]

“Donald Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos represents the worst of the rigged system in Washington,” Tiffany Muller, End Citizens United Executive Director, said.  “She’s admitted to using her millions to buy influence and now the same Senators that she funneled money to are voting on her nomination.  This is outrageous pay-to-play politics.  Our members are calling on these senators to acknowledge their conflict of interest and recuse themselves from the vote on her nomination.”

“Voters didn’t go to the polls wishing to see our government end up even more in the pocket of big donors,” said David Donnelly, President and CEO of Every Voice.  “If Senators who have benefited from DeVos’ donations do not recuse themselves, we’ll have the appearance of a high-ranking government position that can be bought by and sold to the highest bidder.  When you have a nominee who has admitted to ‘buying influence’ by giving millions to politicians, it is impossible to be sure she will receive the scrutiny this important position deserves.”

Americans are fed up with a broken system in Washington that rewards a small band of special interests and shuts out everyone else.  The DeVos nomination doubles down on that system.

A zealous advocate for overturning safeguards to our campaign finance system, she founded an organization which had a sole directive: end all legal restrictions on money in politics.[8]  She’s also led a group that exploits the law to spend millions in anonymous “dark” money in our elections, she’s broken campaign finance law and refused to pay the penalties, and she’s donated money to the very members of Congress who must approve her appointment. [9][10][11]

Members of End Citizens United and Every Voice are mobilizing locally to pressure the Senators to recuse themselves through a combination of paid advertising and grassroots action including a petition drive and contacting Senators directly.  The committee will hold a hearing on DeVos next week, on Wednesday, January 11.  A committee vote will be scheduled for a date later in the month.

Additional Background and Citations Related to Betsy DeVos’ Pay to Play Politics and Political Contributions:

  • Betsy DeVos has given $115,000 to sitting Senators, per their FEC reports.

  • The DeVos family has given more than $900,000 to sitting Senators, per those same reports.

  • The DeVos family has also given over $10 million to Super PACs, PACs, and party committees that have directly helped those Senators’ campaigns.  This total includes $2.75 million to the Koch Brothers-run “Freedom Partners Action Fund,” $1 million to the Mitch McConnell-backed “Senate Leadership Fund,” $1 million to the Karl Rove-run “American Crossroads”, $890,600 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and $5.9 million to the Republican National Committee.

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[1] Bill Cassidy for US Senate, FEC Form 3, 7/15/14; FEC Form 3, 2/10/15; FEC Form 3, 7/8/15

[2] Tim Scott for Senate, FEC Form 3, 7/14/14; FEC Form 3, 1/8/16

[3] Friends of Todd Young, Inc., FEC Form 3, 4/15/16; FEC Form 3, 10/15/16

[4] Lisa Murkowski for US Senate, FEC Form 3, 7/31/15

[5] The Richard Burr Committee, FEC Form 3, 4/14/15

[6] “Betsy DeVos and her big-giving relatives: Family qualifies as GOP royalty.” Jack Noland and Anna Massoglia, The Center for Responsive Politics, 12/1/16

[7] Betsy DeVos, Roll Call, 9/6/97

[8] Mayer, Jane. Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. New York: Doubleday, 2016. p. 246.

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