Advance Notice: Briefs

Report: DeVos profited from Trump tax reform

By: - July 26, 2019 9:27 am
Betsy DeVos

Betsy DeVos | Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

A report from CNBC shows that U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her family have profited to the tune of millions of dollars following the 2017 Republican federal tax reform legislation.

According to DeVos’ public financial disclosure report, the longtime Republican donor and Trump cabinet member had assets somewhere between $200 and $600 million through 2018.

Ethical watchdogs say it’s almost impossible to tell whether DeVos or her West Michigan family have made investments that her cabinet position allowed them to inappropriately profit from.

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“We have no idea who the investors are, who the creditors or who the customers are for these types of investments,” Virginia Canter, chief ethics counsel for watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told CNBC. “They could be doing business and profiting with their affiliation to people who have business before the Department of Education.”

In 2018, the billionaire DeVos family, excluding Betsy DeVos, donated more than $11 million to Republican candidates. 

Recently released documents show that DeVos was given her position in the President Trump administration despite significant concerns about him as a candidate, although transition officials were well aware of her and her family’s long histories as Republican donors.

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Earlier in July, DeVos’ office pushed back on Democratic congressional efforts to view her private emails as part of an ethics probe.

In response to CNBC’s report, DeVos family spokesperson Nick Wasmiller said, “Like all investors, the family seeks investments that grow in value over time. These long-term investments have and do fluctuate in terms of income produced annually and that fluctuation is based on a variety of factors. … It is impossible, given the complexity and diversity of these investments, to attribute any individual shifts to specific policy changes as you suggest.”

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Derek Robertson
Derek Robertson

Derek Robertson is a former reporter for the Advance. Previously, he wrote for Politico Magazine in Washington. He is a Genesee County native and graduate of both Wayne State University, where he studied history, and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.