Names in the News: Michigan’s DeVos Family
The DeVos family of Michigan—Republican stalwarts who have given large contributions to socially conservative ballot measure committees—didn’t hesitate to take advantage of Michigan’s new campaign finance law.1 2 The law, which doubled contribution limits, had a little-noticed quirk in timing that the DeVos family used to contribute more than $700,000 to the state’s Republican house and senate campaign committees during the course of two days.3 4
Though substantial, the $700,000 was a drop in the family’s bucket. Members of the Devos family—Richard Sr. and Helen, their sons Daniel, Douglas, and Dick, along with the sons’ spouses, Pamella, Maria, and Betsy, and grandson Richard III—have contributed $45.6 million to state campaigns since 2000. The fortune for such prolific giving stems from Richard DeVos Sr.’s role in co-founding Amway, the direct sales corporation. The family has since widened its holdings to include a variety of businesses, including an NBA franchise.
The recent spate of giving is striking for not only the size of the contributions, but because the DeVos family has not previously focused on giving to state legislative campaign committees. According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics data since 2000, members of the DeVos family had given $464,394 to house and senate Republican campaign committees up until the new law took effect—meaning that in just two days the family far exceeded its previous lifetime contributions to Michigan Republican legislative campaign committees.
Previously, the DeVos family had contributed primarily to state political parties. Family members donated $5 million to the Michigan Republican Party (which Betsy DeVos chaired from 1996 until 2000), $3.7 million of which came from Richard DeVos, Sr. The family also contributed $1.1 million to the Republican Party of Florida.
|Michigan Republican Party||$4,937,500|
|Michigan House Republican Campaign Committee||$267,394|
|Michigan Senate Republican Campaign Committee||$191,500|
Most of Dick DeVos’ giving occurred in 2006, when he ran unsuccessfully for governor of Michigan. Of the DeVos family’s $45.6 million in giving since 2000, $35.4 million came in the form of self funding by Dick DeVos and his wife, Betsy DeVos, who donated $130,596 to his campaign. Other members of the family combined to contribute $21,935 to his gubernatorial campaign.5
|MI||2004||Citizens for the Protection of Marriage||$50,000|
|MI||2008||Michigan Citizens Against Unrestricted Science & Experimentation||$275,000|
|MI||2008||Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Kids||$60,000|
|FL||2010||Protect Your Vote||$100,000|
|MI||2012||Protecting Michigan Taxpayers||$1,750,000|
The DeVos family has also contributed generously to ballot measure campaigns in Michigan and Florida. Richard Sr., and Douglas and Maria DeVos, gave a total of $50,000 to support Michigan’s 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. In 2008, Richard DeVos6 gave $100,000 to a similar measure in Florida, while other members of the DeVos family contributed $60,000 to fight the legalization of medical marijuana in Michigan, and $275,000 to fight an attempt to legalize stem cell research in Michigan. In 2010, Richard Sr. and Helen each gave $50,000 to opposeefforts to reform redistricting in Florida. Members of the DeVos family combined to contribute $1.8 million to oppose a 2012 Michigan constitutional amendment that would have guaranteed a right to collective bargaining.
-Just a small tidbit to inform people where a great deal of the DeVos family’s money goes; into hate speech, insuring inequality, bigotry and keeping the working person in line.