Saturday, January 7, 2017

Demand that Senators Who Have Received DeVos Money Recuse Themselves

On January 11, 2017 The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) will hold the confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. Recently, Politico released the paperwork DeVos filed with the Committee prior to her hearing. I perused it with some interest, wondering what it might reveal. Not a big surprise that she's involved in numerous education reform organizations, but even I got a chuckle to learn that she's a member of not one, but three yacht clubs.

But I digress.

What I really wanted to look at were her political contributions. The unsearchable pdf wasn't user friendly - lists of Committees, Campaigns and PACs are not terribly helpful or illuminating, so I decided to use the Federal Election Commission website to see what I could find.

I wanted to see if any of the members of the HELP Committee have any conflicts with DeVos and her billions. Sure enough, a fair number of the Republican Senators do.

But before we get to the actual contributions, I need to make something very clear. For Betsy DeVos to disclose only contributions that she gave as an individual is inherently dishonest. I've spent more than my fair share of time researching campaign contributions, and if there is one thing I've learned it's that billionaire families give as a unit. If there is a $2,600 contribution limit, the husband and wife both donate the limit, and they do it as often as possible.

The DeVos's are no exception to that rule, and as you will see, if anything, when one member of the DeVos clan contributes, the whole family contributes. Their businesses are family affairs. Just because her first name doesn't appear doesn't mean her interests are not in play. 

Check back to the DeVos family tree of businesses which illustrates this quite nicely.

When we consider if a Senator has a conflict of interest in participating in DeVos's nomination hearings, we have to consider not only her contributions, but those of the rest of her billionaire brood as well.

Here is a list of the twelve Republican Senators on the HELP Committee.
Health, Education, Labor and Pensions 
Lamar Alexander, Tennessee
Mike Enzi, Wyoming
Richard Burr, North Carolina
Johnny Isakson, Georgia
Rand Paul, Kentucky
Susan Collins, Maine
Bill Cassidy, Louisiana
Todd Young, Indiana
Orrin Hatch, Utah
Pat Roberts, Kansas
Lisa Murkowski, Alaska
Tim Scott, South Carolina

Let's see how many of them we can connect to campaign contributions or independent expenditures from DeVos, her family and the PACs they have contributed to.

Alticor PAC 


Between 1997 and 2016 the DeVos family contributed at least $283,000 to the Alticor PAC. Alticor is the parent company of Amway, and as we all know (see graphic above), Amway is a DeVos family company. 

Betsy DeVos contributed $5,000 to Alticor in 2015 and another $5,000 in 2016. You can view all of the DeVos family's contributions here.

In 2015 Alticor contributed directly to Lamar Alexander's Senate campaign.

Alticor also contributed to:

Friends of Todd Young in 2016
Orrin Hatch in 2010 and 2014
Pat Roberts in 2008

So right off the bat we've uncovered that the chairman of the HELP Committee and two committee members have benefited from campaign contributions from a DeVos family company PAC.

Alticor PAC Totals:

Lamar Alexander - $2,500

Todd Young - $2,000
Orrin Hatch - $2,000
Pat Roberts - $1,000


Senate Leadership Fund 


The Senate Leadership Fund describes itself as an "independent Super PAC" and claims that its sole goal is "to protect and expand the Republican Senate Majority when Harry Reid, Elizabeth Warren and their army of left-wing activists try to take it back in 2016."

This goal seems to have resonated with the DeVos family - they contributed $2,225,000 between 9/27/16 to 11/1/16. Yes - you saw that right - almost two and a quarter million in a little over a month. You can see those contributions here.


According to Open Secrets, Independent Expenditures to support Todd Young in his 2016 Indiana Senate race totaled almost $300,000. Expenditures to oppose his primary challenger Marlin Stutzman totaled $482,330, and to oppose his general election opponent the PAC spent a shocking $11,542,687. That's a total of $12,325,017 to put Young in the Senate.

Senate Leadership Fund Totals:

Todd Young - $12,325,017

Freedom Partners Action Fund


The DeVos Family contributed $2,000,000 to the Freedom Partners Action Fund Super PAC between 2014 and 2016. You can view those contributions here.

In turn, Freedom Partners Action Fund supported William Cassidy - and they successfully helped him defeat incumbent Mary Landrieu, spending over $1.6M to oppose her. Watch some of the commercials they produced to slam Landrieu - they're pretty heinous attack ads. 

The expenditures on Cassidy's behalf totaled $223,168 - you can see them here. In total, that's almost $2M to put Cassidy in office, and on the HELP Committee where DeVos will have her hearing. Money well spent, I suppose.

Freedom Partners spent less to support Pat Roberts, but they supported his Senate campaign to the tune of $17,507.45. See here.

Freedom Partners Action Fund Totals:

William Cassidy - $1,840,359
Pat Roberts - $17,507


ESAFund 


ESAFund's website is under construction, but says that they support candidates who "favor enhancing free enterprise, reducing the size of government, and balancing our nation's budget." 

Between 2014 and 2016 the DeVos family has contributed over $500,000 to the ESAFund. You can see those contributions here

Todd Young's 2016 campaign received $134,086.68 from ESAFund.


As a fun aside, ESAFund also spent close to $1M to oppose Bernie Sanders' presidential bid, and Sanders is on the HELP Committee as well.


ESAFund Totals:

Todd Young - $134,086

DeVos Family's Direct Contributions


Here is a list of the direct contributions the DeVos family have made to HELP Committee Members and how much was in Betsy DeVos's name (Click on amounts to see all of the individual contributions): 

Richard Burr - $43,200 ($5,400 from Betsy DeVos)

(Contributions on FEC website)


Lisa Murkowski - $40,500 ($5,400 from Betsy DeVos)

(Contributions on FEC website)


Bill Cassidy - $67,600 ($7,800 from Betsy DeVos)

(Contributions on FEC website)


Todd Young - $48,600 ($5,400 from Betsy DeVos)

(Contributions on FEC website)


Tim Scott - $49,200 ($7,400 from Betsy DeVos)

(Contributions on FEC website)

That's a total of $296,800 from the DeVos family ($31,400 in Betsy's name) directly to sitting members of the HELP Committee.


Conservative Solutions PAC


This one is just kind of amusing. The Conservative Solutions PAC supported Marco Rubio for President. Betsy DeVos gave $50,000 to this Rubio friendly PAC in her own name, and the DeVos family gave $750,000. See those contributions here.


Open Secrets shows that while Conservative Solutions spent almost $40M to support Rubio, they also spent over $4,750,000 to oppose Trump. Can you imagine the kind of leverage this gives someone like Trump over DeVos? Do you think this came up in their meeting? Hard to imagine it didn't, isn't it?


So how much money did Senators on the Committee get in total?



At the top of this post I listed the 12 Republican members on the HELP Committee, and I have been able to connect 8 of them to DeVos money, either directly or through PACs the DeVos family has contributed to. I would be remiss if I didn't add that this is just what I was able to find combing though FEC filings. In no way are these totals exhaustive. There well could be more money and other PACs I simply wasn't able to uncover with my somewhat limited Nancy Drew style sleuthing abilities.



Senators who have received contributions and/or support from the DeVos family and the PACs they contribute to should recuse themselves


End Citizens United and Every Voice have started a petition asking senators who have received contributions from Betsy DeVosto recuse themselves. You bet I'll be adding my name to that petition, and I hope you'll join me.

I would expand that call to include senators who have received the support of DeVos family members and PACs that the DeVos family have contributed to as well. 


If you haven't yet called your senators and the senators on the HELP Committee to oppose DeVos's appointment, please call on Monday. NPE Action has a handy list of Committee Members and their contact information for you to use, as well as a call script.

It's crucial we make these calls. DeVos is on a list of nominees Democrats plan to scrutinize, and Politico has reported that they may demand a roll call vote on her appointment. Hold the senators in your state and the senators on the HELP Committee accountable. DeVos has been clear that the money she and her family contribute is meant to buy influence.
"My family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican party. I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now, I simply concede the point. We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment; we expect a good and honest government. Furthermore, we expect the Republican party to use the money to promote these policies, and yes, to win elections."
Don't let her buy her way into the Secretary of Education's office. Our public schools are too important, and she doesn't have a clue as to how to oversee them. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Camden Voucher Advocate, Member Of Groups With Ties To Betsy DeVos, Nominated For NJ State Board Of Ed

You've got to hand it to Chris Christie. He'll always keep you on your toes.

As reported in NJ Spotlight yesterday, the Governor announced nominees for long vacant seats on the State Board of Education yesterday, and in a move no one saw coming, he ousted the Board's President, Mark Biedron. John Mooney also noted one particular nomination, and what it may mean.

Christie added to the board well-known Camden activist Angel Cordero. A former mayoral candidate from the city, Cordero a few years ago was among the state’s biggest advocates for private-school vouchers, a topic that may see a revival in Christie’s last year.
A look at Cordero's Twitter account is, well, disturbing. His handle is @Christie_Guy_. The bulk of his tweets fall into three categories; love letters to Christie, hatred for the teachers' union, and more than a few that are just straight up bizarre. 

Here are some representative samples.

Let's start with the straight up bizarre ones to give you a sense of the guy Governor Christie thinks should get to vote on the future of our state's public schools.



From here the bizarre melts into hatred for the teachers' union.



And then there are countless tweets of pure, unadulterated love for the man himself.



Greatest human being he's ever met? A great man with a heart of gold? 82% of New Jersey residents disagree, as Christie's approval level just hit an all time low of 18%.

But back to Cordero. He's on the Board of Delegates of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey. In 2011, during Christie's strongest push for the Opportunity Scholarship Act, then LLANJ President Martin Perez was a strong supporter.
In this post-election period, the Legislature has a chance to make a real difference in the lives of thousands of students shackled to low-performing schools. It’s a chance that leaders genuinely concerned about the future cannot afford to let slip by. The Opportunity Scholarship Act (OSA) is ready for the final few steps of the legislative process and could be on Gov. Chris Christie’s desk by the end of the month if lawmakers do what they know is right for their constituents.
In 2012 Perez and his wife, Patricia Bombelyn, were behind Vargas v. Camden Board of Education, a lawsuit that sought to free parents from the "failing" schools in Camden and pay them to go to the private school of their choice. 

And Angel was right at their side.
One of those advocates is Patricia Bombelyn, the New Brunswick attorney who led the Crawford case and has been closely aligned with Excellent Education for Everyone (E3), the decade-old group that has largely led the push for private school vouchers in the state. E3 is helping sponsor the challenge.
Her law partner, Martin Perez, was also in attendance. Perez heads up the Latino Leadership Alliance. Also present: Angel Cordero, a Camden activist and former mayoral candidate, and former U.S. Rep. Richard Zimmer, a member of the E3 board. 
So it crystal clear that Cordero has been at the heart of the movement to bring vouchers to NJ, and it is likely that Christie is rewarding him for his allegiance with this seat on the State Board of Education. But Cordero must have some other qualifications, right?

Wrong.

Cordero by darciecimarusti on Scribd



It's hard to know where to start with this resume. The only experience offered, other than his work with the LLANJ and NJ reform heavyweight E3, is the Community Education Resource Network (CERN) and East Side Preparatory High School. I can find no reference to East Side anywhere other than in this Scribd document which was posted by "The CERN Program." Cordero describes his role at East Side as "Co-founder/general stuff."  

How illuminating.

CERN

No, certainly not the CERN. Cordero's CERN has been described as an "an alternative school for dropouts" in Camden. And while this is certainly a laudable endeavor, it is clear that Cordero has used the school as a political tool to pass voucher legislation. Cordero wants public money to fund his school when, as seen in this highly produced video of CERN's 2014 graduation (created by NJ Public School Options no less), their graduations are held in a church.



And this NJ.com article about CERN's 2011 graduation makes it very clear that the ceremony was little more than a political rally (again, at a church) with the Governor himself in attendance.
Politicians urged audience members to call lawmakers, school officials praised the program’s virtues and workers at the door handed out bright yellow T-shirts saying "one failing school is one too many." 
"They said everyone had to wear a shirt," said Charles Washington, 24, of Pennsauken. "You couldn’t get in without a shirt." 
Some of the state’s most powerful people attended the ceremony for the approximately 100 graduates of the Community Education Resource Network, an alternative school for dropouts. It also showcased the alliance — at least when it comes to education — between Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, and George Norcross, a Democratic power broker from South Jersey. Both are pushing the scholarship measure, which has stalled in the Legislature despite the support of Democrats and Republicans alike.
Just imagine a public school handing out mandatory t-shirts at graduation, with pleas for attendees to call their legislators to support public education. Something like that might inspire Christie to accuse the teachers' union of using students as drug mules...

Cordero has absolutely zero experience in or around a public school. While his dedication to the people of Camden is commendable, his push for vouchers, and his willingness to use the students and families he serves as pawns in his political game, is highly suspect. 

And his connections to organizations like E3 and LLANJ are deeply troubling.

Betsy DeVos, E3 and LLANJ


How in the world does Betsy DeVos come into this?

Back in 2013 I was concerned about a candidate running for the New Brunswick Board of Education. He too was a voucher supporter, and an ally of Patricia Bombelyn and Martin Perez. When I looked into the money behind these vouchers champions, I found DeVos. 

At the time, I had no idea who she was.

Here's what I wrote in 2013. (Sadly, a bunch of the links no longer work.)


━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━

And in case you're thinking Bombelyn and Perez's connections stop at the NJ border, you're wrong. When Bombelyn and Arocho ran on the same ticket, their campaign received a $2,600 donation from the "New Jersey Federation for Children PAC."



Note the address; 1660 L ST, NW STE 1000, Washington DC. This just happens to be the address for the American Federation for Children. Who's behind it? Reformy glitterati such as Betsy DeVos.
...American Federation for Children (AFC), the powerful national network of billionaire campaign contributors that has been pouring millions into school privatization fights across the country.
...
Organized by Michigan billionaires Dick and Betsy DeVos, Americans for Children is officially nonpartisan. But Dick DeVos is a former Republican nominee for governor of Michigan and Betsy DeVos is a former chair of the Michigan Republican Party. Together, they have poured tens of millions of dollars into the ideological and electoral infrastructure that supports school privatization.
“Dick DeVos has used his family’s fortune and status to create an intricate national network of nonprofits, political action committees and federal groups known as 527s that effectively fund the political arm of the school voucher movement,” notes a People for the American Way study of the political projects of the heir to the Amway fortune and his wife. “Nowhere is the impact of the DeVos family fortune greater, though, than in the movement to privatize public education.” 
AFC chair Betsy DeVos has for decades been a high-stakes political player on behalf of school privatization. (emphasis mine)
Great.  Just when I thought I had a handle on all the reformers with their claws into public education in New Jersey, it turns out there's ANOTHER one breathing down our necks.

Other notables behind AFC are "venture capitalist" John F. Kirtley, and investment banker and banking heir Boykin Curry, who is also on the board of Democrats for Education Reform, and a co-founder of a chain of NYC charters called Public Prep.

To bring this full circle, it's important to note that AFC is part and parcel of another entity called Alliance for School Choice, which has identical board members and the same address. Who funds Alliance for School Choice? (As if these folks need more money??)  In 2011 the Walton Foundation gave them $1,202,000.

And here comes the trickle down. 

Between 2006 and 2010 Alliance for School Choice gave $113,500 to none other than Martin Perez's Latino Leadership Alliance. Not surprisingly E3, (remember Perez is on the board) is listed as their only ally in New Jersey.

In turn, the LLA NJ donated $2,700 to Bombelyn and Arocho's campaign.


━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━

Angel Cordero may have been nominated for a seat on the New Jersey State Board of Education but he has not yet been confirmed by the Senate (See page 6 in the link for current status of his nomination). He has absolutely no experience in public education, and is clearly hostile to the teachers' union. His appointment by one of the least popular Governor's in New Jersey's history must be challenged. 

Appointments to the State Board of Education are for 6 years, and there are no minimum requirements to serve, other than those that relate to the make-up of the Board as a whole

So left to his own judgement, this is who Governor Christie nominates. But there is a process that must be allowed to unfold. This is a nomination, not an appointment. As noted in the NJ Spotlight piece above:
All the appointments require Senate approval, and the nominations this week only start the process of vetting and interviews before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Nevertheless, it is rare when a nomination to a state board is reversed. 
It may be rare for a nomination to be reversed, but Cordero is an unusual nominee, to be sure. If ever there was a time for the Senate to intervene, this is it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

DeVos Removes Controversial Twitter Photo But Conflict Of Interest Concerns Continue

Late last week I posted about Betsy DeVos's Twitter header photo, which appeared to show Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education shilling boxed water sold by a company in which she had invested. In the post I posited that, like Trump, DeVos may have her own conflicts of interest to grapple with.

At some point this afternoon, the header photo I challenged was taken off of Betsy DeVos's Twitter account. 

Coincidence? I think not. 

Here's the new photo:



Thanks to some clever cropping, this image seems more appropriate, but it still falls pretty far short for a nominee for a cabinet position. 

You see, I checked out DeVos's website, which is plainly linked on her Twitter account. On the website there is a page for contact and media inquiries. There you will find a line that says:
To download photos of Betsy DeVos for editorial purposes, please click here.

So of course I clicked there, and here's what I found.

The uncropped version of the new header photo is titled "Betsy in a Meeting 3". Here is the entire image, with some commentary from yours truly.


And here are "Betsy in a Meeting 1" and "Betsy in a Meeting 2".






The new photo may be less outwardly problematic, but my goodness, really? With her self reported "28 years involved with education issues" her people can't find one photo of her where she's actually doing something related to, oh, I don't know, educating kids?

Where did I find that fascinating tidbit about 28 years in education, you may ask? On the newly updated Q&A page of DeVos's website! On that page you'll also find this:
Q: What are your thoughts about specific education policies?
I am very excited to get to work and to talk about my thoughts and ideas on making American education great again. The status quo is not acceptable. I am committed to transforming our education system into the best in the world. However, out of respect for the United States Senate, it is most appropriate for me to defer expounding on specifics until they begin their confirmation process.  (emphasis mine)
So not only has DeVos updated her header photo, she's updated her website to reflect the fact that she is Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education. Not much to go on here in terms of her thoughts about the job, though. And the only information offered under the "Education" tab is what you'd expect - just a string of school choice buzz words. It's all about "America’s broken education system" and "children trapped by their zip code in a school that failed to meet their needs."

And there's even a blurb about founding the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a charter high school. 

But not a positive word to say about traditional public schools. 

Not. A. Word.

Maybe there is a contact email address where I could ask her a question about what she plans to do about all of these pesky public schools people seem to like so much? So much so in fact that, as of this writing, over 77,000 people have contacted their Senators to oppose DeVos's appointment.

Lucky for us, there is contact information! If you have a question for the next Secretary of Education, just get in touch with the Windcrest Group!
Other questions? Email contact@windquest.com and we’d be happy to help!
To learn more about the Windcrest Group, just click on the "Entrepreneurship" tab on the same website.
Starting in 1989 along with, Dick, Betsy started the Windquest Group, where she serves as Chairman. The Windquest Group invests in a family of companies that provide innovative solutions, services, and products that make the world better.

DeVos may have taken down the super tacky photo of her selling Boxed Water, but clearly she still doesn't get it. It's simply not OK to offer information regarding her nomination and her entrepreneurial enterprises on the same website.

Which brings me back to the same questions I raised in my last post.
Will she divest from her business interests now that she is poised to become a government employee? Or does Trump believe that the "law is on the side" of the Secretary of Education as well, and she can't have a conflict of interest?
If I was right that the photo needed to come down, then it stands to reason that I'm also right that a wall needs to go up between her and her "family of companies". 

But will Trump and DeVos be willing to build walls between themselves and their business empires? If they are, those walls are going to have to be huge.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Betsy DeVos: Conflict of Interest Concerns Arise on Future Secretary's Twitter Account

So it's done.
"Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and passionate education advocate,” Trump said in a statement. “Under her leadership we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families."
When I first heard the news I took to Twitter to check out her account. Here's the first thing I noticed. 




Let's play a little game for a moment to try and lighten the mood. Did you catch the missing word in that tweet? The missing word is public. Our new Secretary of Education can't bring herself to utter the word public in the same sentence as education while announcing that she will soon oversee the education of 50 million American students in public schools.

Here's what I noticed next. Her header photo.














At  first glance this just looks like a lovely photo of DeVos in conversation with a student. But huh, isn't it a little odd that there is a carton in front of each of them? And not just any carton, a carton of water. That's not something you see everyday.

It looks like a product placement, doesn't it? But nah, she's savvy enough to keep any products her family business may be associated with far away from the Twitter account where she's tweeting about her appointment, right? She can't be involved in that company, that would look like a conflict of interest! 

So let's just get on with our story.

DeVos is from Michigan. Betsy and her husband, Dick, have funded countless Republican candidates in Michigan, going back to the 1990s.
Nowhere has the family made its presence felt as it has in Michigan, where it has given more than $44 million to the state party, GOP legislative committees, and Republican candidates since 1997. "It's been a generational commitment," Anuzis notes. "I can't start to even think of who would've filled the void without the DeVoses there."
Governor Rick Snyder has been the recipient of the DeVos family's largesse.
Employees of Blue Cross/Blue Shield are the biggest funding source for the governor so far, having donated $112,131. Fifteen members of the DeVos family have contributed $85,600. They are followed by employees of CMS Energy, $82,975, and DTE Energy, $75,800.
The DeVos family uses their money and influence for any number of vile endeavors; vouchers, right-to-work laws, anti-gay marriage efforts, etc. But school choice is Betsy Devos' bread and butter.
But they are perhaps most ardent about their support for school choice, leading a movement to promote vouchers and charter schools for years.

Betsy DeVos founded and serves as chairman of the American Federation of Children and its associated political arm, a platform she has used to support candidates who endorse vouchers and charter schools and to attack candidates who don’t.
The DeVos clan has a ton of money (5.1 billion to be exact) from multiple business interests, and they use it to bust unions, privatize schools and deny rights to gay Americans.

Here's a quick peek at some of the family's business, political and foundation connections from Muckety.


Whew, nothing about a boxed water business, so my earlier suspicions must be unfounded. 

But I just can't shake the feeling that something is off about those water cartons being in the photo. Like it's more of an advertisement than a snapshot of an educational leader engaging in a genuine moment with a student. 

So I looked up the company.
OUR STORY 
We started with the simple idea of creating a packaged water brand that is kinder to the environment and gives back.
WE FOUND THAT IT SHOULDN’T BE BOTTLED, BUT INSTEAD, BOXED.
We focused on purity and sustainability, delivering our first carton to our favorite lunch spot in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2009. Since then, we’ve continued to spread our message of healthy and thoughtful living, one box at a time.
Huh, they started in Michigan. DeVos is from Michigan. So maybe the boxes are in the photo just because this is a nice, local brand! 

A do-gooder local company must have pitched in to help with the Flint water crisis, right? This is from a press release from the company.
"We feel for the local community and those impacted by the Flint water crisis, and as a Michigan based water company, we strongly believe it's our responsibility to help the community during this time," commented David Lee, Chief Operating Officer for Boxed Water. "We encourage everyone involved to continue donations and continue volunteering time and energy to raise awareness for this issue and to help those in need during this time."
A little tacky to send out a press release about your good works, but okay, I still want to buy the do-gooder routine.

Until I search for "Boxed Water is Better" and "Betsy DeVos", just because in my heart of hearts, I really am deeply cynical. I just can't help it.

And what did I find?

Founded in 2009, Boxed Water is a portfolio company of DeVos family office The Windquest Group.
Boxed Water is just one of many ventures that are a part of The Windcrest Group, which is described on their website as a "privately held enterprise and investment management firm with diversified projects in technology, manufacturing, clean-tech, hospitality, and nonprofit solutions."

And Betsty DeVos is the Chairwoman of the Windcrest Group.


http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/01/devos-family-foundations-heritage-americans-prosperity-blackwater


So wait a minute. Let's skip past the whole "I knew it!" part and unpack this a bit. 

A water company the DeVos family has invested in donated water to the people of Flint, and touted the donation via a press release in February of 2016. This was just a month before a panel, commissioned by the governor, concluded that that same governor (who, remember, the DeVos family helped put in office with almost $100,000 in campaign contributions) and other state officials were "fundamentally accountable" for the lead that poisoned the people of Flint. 
The Flint water crisis is a story of government failure, intransigence, unpreparedness, delay, inaction and environmental injustice,” said Chris Kolb, a co-chairman of the task force and president of Michigan Environmental Council, a nonprofit coalition of environmental groups in the state.(emphasis mine)
A story of government failure. Let that just sink in for just a moment. 

How opportunistic is if for a business funded by the DeVos family to send out a press release about donating boxed water to Flint, when their 44 million dollars in campaign contributions helped elect Republican legislators that have failed the people of Flint for decades? 

Disaster capitalism at its finest.

Hard not to draw comparisons to DeVos and her penchant for privatization and school choice, isn't it?

Wreck the public schools by underfunding them and busting their unions, and then offer the desperate masses for-profit charters and vouchers to private schools!

And as it so happens, one of the many "enterprises" that is listed as part of The Windcrest Group portfolio, right on the same page as the Boxed Water company, is the charter school started by DeVos' husband, the West Michigan Aviation Academy.

Because to people like Trump and DeVos, a school is just another business.

So here is the big question - at a time when questions swirl around the Trump family's business empire and the unavoidable conflicts of interest, what about DeVos? In how many businesses does the DeVos family have an interest, and how many of those businesses could potentially benefit from her new position?

After all, if she's not above using her official Twitter account to shill boxed water sold by a company she has invested in, what other products might her family sell that could lead to conflicts in her new role as a government official? 

Will she divest from her business interests now that she is poised to become a government employee? Or does Trump believe that the "law is on the side" of the Secretary of Education as well, and she can't have a conflict of interest?

Can she shill boxed water that pays her dividends on her Twitter account, President Trump? 

Are you OK with that?