Democrats highlight ethics concerns for DeVos confirmation ahead of hearings

Dive Brief:

  • U.S. Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos, a Michigan billionaire, has a long history of political donations to many of the same elected officials who will decide whether she will be confirmed for President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet.
  • The Washington Post reports DeVos and her relatives contributed at least $818,000 to 20 sitting Republican senators during the 2014 and 2016 election cycles, including more than $250,000 to five education committee members — and critics say these senators should recuse themselves from the confirmation votes.
  • While the Senate education committee scheduled a confirmation hearing for DeVos for Wednesday, Democrats are calling for a delay in light of the fact that the bipartisan Office of Government Ethics has not had a chance to fully vet her potential conflicts of interest.

Dive Insight:

Republicans have significant enough majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate to approve Trump’s cabinet picks, if they vote as a bloc. Democrats, however, still have the power to delay the confirmation process. Pressuring Congress to wait until a full ethics investigation is complete for every nominee could mean a substantial delay, as the Office of Government Ethics has been overwhelmed by Trump’s cabinet picks.

DeVos has been criticized for buying influence in major education reform fights in her home state of Michigan and elsewhere. Among other things, her money and support helped expand Indiana’s voucher program and reduce regulation on charter schools in Michigan. As secretary of education, she is expected to bring federal support to similar initiatives nationwide.

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Filed Under: K12 Policy & Regulation
Top image credit: Flickr; Tim Evanson