For Immediate Release
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Contact: Adam Bozzi, [email protected]
Supporters sign almost 20,000 petitions, begin making calls to senators; End Citizens United launches digital ad campaign
Today as Betsy DeVos’ nomination hearing for the role of Education Secretary faces a delay, money-in-politics reform groups End Citizens United and Every Voice announced a surge of grassroots opposition to her candidacy. In less than a week, almost 20,000 members have signed a petition calling on five senators on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) Committee who took campaign money from Betsy DeVos and her family to recuse themselves from voting on her nomination.
Now, End Citizens United and Every Voice are ramping up efforts to draw attention to the DeVos family’s donations of more than $250,000 to senators on the HELP Committee and nearly $1 million to Senate Republicans as a whole. The groups are launching a first wave of geo-targeted digital ads today. The ad campaign will result in nearly 1.5 million impressions in the home states of the senators on the HELP committee facing a conflict of interest, as well as in Washington, DC. The ads call attention to the DeVos contributions and the senators’ conflict of interests, and encourage viewers to join the call for the senators’ recusals. Over the next week, Every Voice and End Citizens United members in the affected states will call their senators directly to demand their recusal.
“The uproar of opposition to the DeVos nomination is a shining example of how fed up Americans are with the rigged system in Washington,” Tiffany Muller, End Citizens United Executive Director, said. “Pay-to-play politics has no place in our government. Yet Betsy DeVos has said she expects something in return for her contributions – making it unethical for these senators to vote on her nomination. The public trust is at stake, and these senators must recuse themselves.”
“While questions are rightly raised about potential conflicts of interest Betsy DeVos would face as Education secretary, many senators tasked with considering her nomination face their own,” said David Donnelly, Every Voice president and CEO. “The only way to assure the American people that the Senate is not handing a high-ranking government position to the highest bidder is for senators who have benefited from DeVos’ donations to recuse themselves from voting on her nomination.”
Other experts are also weighing in about the conflicts DeVos’ nomination brings. Norman Eisen and Richard Painter, the former top ethics watchdogs for Presidents Bush and Obama, have questioned whether DeVos is going to get special treatment by the committee because of her campaign contributions.
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.”
The petitions calling for recusal are directed toward senators who have received donations from the DeVos family and are facing a conflict of interest on the DeVos nomination: Bill Cassidy of Louisiana (who has taken $70,200 from the DeVos family), 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).
The groups’ call for the senators to recuse themselves has drawn local and national media attention. To date, the senators continue to refuse to recuse themselves from the vote.