DeVos Family now funding mostly out of state elections through PACs
According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, the DeVos Family has shifted their political donations from Republican Presidential candidates to Political Action Committee, mostly operating outside of Michigan.
Richard and Helen DeVos have contributed the most, but all of their children and their spouses are also major contributors as of June of this year. Many of the DeVos Family members had been making sizable contributions to Republican Presidential candidates like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina. However, as these GOP candidates dropped out, the DeVos Family then shifted their funds to the Republican National Committee, Freedom Partners and American Crossroads.
In the Grand Rapids area, DeVos Family members were the Top 46 contributors in the current electoral cycle, ranging from $50,000 with each contribution, to half a million for each contribution. The most recent donation was in June of 2016, which means it is likely that they will contribute a million or more before the November election.
You can see in the graphic above how this election cycle has resulted in significantly larger contributions, since we are in the Citizens United era.
The three top recipients of the money from West Michigan, mostly from the DeVos Family, have all received $1,000,000 or more in contributions. The Republican National Committee has received $1,537.805, the Freedom Partners Action Fund has received $1,500,000 and American Crossroads has received $1,000,000 so far in the current election cycle.
According to SourceWatch, “Freedom Partners describes itself as a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(6) chamber of commerce that promotes the benefits of free markets and a free society. Koch Industries issued a press release stating that Freedom Partners is legally separate from the corporation, but Freedom Partners is controlled by Koch loyalists such as Marc Short. Politico describes the group as the Koch brothers‘ secret bank. Additionally, a document discovered after the winter 2014 donor meeting revealed extensive one-on-one meetings between donors and representatives of the political, corporate, and philanthropic wings of the Koch world.”
Freedom Partners is currently directing most of their funds to Senate battles in the following states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Indiana and Nevada. However, Freedom Partners also provides funding for national groups like the Heritage Foundation and the US Chamber of Commerce, along with local groups like the West Michigan Policy Forum. This is another way for the DeVos Family to contribute to West Michigan political organizations, without it being well know that they are the primary funders.
Again, according to SourceWatch, “American Crossroads is a conservative Super PAC created in 2010 by right-wing political operatives and advised by Karl Rove and former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie to support Republican candidates. Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s January 2010 Citizens United decision and the related decision in Speechnow.org v. FEC, Super PACs like American Crossroads can legally advocate for or against political candidates without restrictions on the amount of money they can raise from individuals and corporations.”
American Crossroads is also closely connected to the US Chamber of Commerce, coordinating strategic efforts and political ad buys in several states throughout the country. American Crossroads is led by President and CEO Stephen Law, a former chief lawyer for the Chamber of Commerce.
As we have reported before, the DeVos Family has contributing significantly to effecting the outcome of elections in Michigan, but it is also clear that they want to influence elections in numerous states as well. The DeVos Family might be based in West Michigan, but their political reach is far and wide.