When I first heard the news I took to Twitter to check out her account. Here's the first thing I noticed."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."
I am honored to work with the President-elect on his vision to make American education great again. The status quo in ed is not acceptable.— Betsy DeVos (@BetsyDeVos) November 23, 2016
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.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.
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.
Here's a quick peek at some of the family's business, political and foundation connections from Muckety.
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.
"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.
So wait a minute. Let's skip past the whole "I knew it!" part and unpack this a bit.
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)
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?