Betsy Devos was one of President Donald Trump’s most controversial Cabinet appointments. Trump tapped her to be the Secretary of Education, a government institution long despised by the Republican Party. It was an alarming choice for Democrats because Betsy Devos is an advocate of moving away from funding for public schools and toward government funding for charter schools and school vouchers. Private Education Management Organizations run a majority of charter schools. School vouchers are a more direct approach in that they pay private tuition for students attending private schools.
She suffered through an intense Senate hearing of all of Trump’s appointees. During the hearing, Bernie Sanders asked her how much her family contributed to the Republican Party. She replied, “I don’t know.” This resulted in the Senate casting a 50-50 tie vote that was broken by Vice President casting the deciding vote that led to her nomination.
She replied,”Yes that is possible.”
This unusual hearing resulted in the Senate casting a 50-50 tie vote that was broken by Vice President casting the deciding vote that led to her nomination.
Betsy Devos’ maiden name is Betsy Prince. She is the daughter of Edgar Prince who founded the Prince Corporation. The Prince Corporation was one of the first innovators of the sun visor in vehicles. Based out of Holland, Michigan Prince went on to sell many interior items to the big car manufacturers in Detroit. At the time of his death, his company sold for $1.35 billion.
Betsy Prince went on to marry Dick Devos, son of Richard Devos (founder of Amway which a net worth of $5.1 billion). Dick Devos served as CEO of Amway for several years in the late nineties-early 2000’s. He is also politically active. He ran for Governor of Michigan in 2006 but lost to Democrat Jennifer Granholm.
This is where things start to get fascinating. Betsy’s brother is Erik Prince. He founder of Blackwater, a private mercenary group the US Military contracted to both train and fight in the Middle East and other war theaters abroad. Erik Prince sold Blackwater in 2010 and now works for Frontier Resource Group and is chairman of Frontier Services Group. He spends most of his time living in Abu Dhabi.
Erik Prince served as an emissary for the Trump administration in the lead up to Trump’s inauguration. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi set up an off-the-record unofficial meeting in the Seychelle Islands. According to the Washington Post, part of the reason for the meeting was to put Erik Prince in touch with Russian officials. The Post went on to say, and I would say speculate that the true reason for connecting Prince with Russia was to set up a back channel off the record line of communication between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.
Erik Prince considers himself the most hardcore of libertarians. He believes military operations and in this case, global diplomacy can be outsourced. He makes the case that outsourcing these operations and talks lead to both greater secrecy and better results.
Betsy Devos did run the Michigan Republican Party from 1996-2000 and again from 2003-2005. So she is no political novice. She is a long-term champion of charter schools and school vouchers going back to 2001.