There’s been a lot of discussion about how Betsy Devos gain a lot of power and influence through making donations to political campaigns. It’s even gotten to the point that people are claiming she bought her way to the position of Secretary of Education. It therefore shouldn’t be too surprising that the Democratic Party of Virginia sent out an email claiming “DeVos has deep ties to Virginia Republicans. In fact, she gave $100,000 to Ed Gillespie’s campaign for governor.”
That allegation would be worth noting if it was in fact true, so I began to wonder why (as someone heavily involved in Virginia politics and who’d been organizing in opposition to DeVos’s nomination) hadn’t heard about this. So I did a quick search of Betsy DeVos’s name in the Virginia Public Access Project’s (VPAP) database and couldn’t find any donation that fit the bill. In fact, the only donations that I could find under her name for Virginia campaigns was about $260,000 that she gave to a group called All Children Matter.
Those donations made sense considering she had invested millions of dollars to helping advance private schools and charter schools over the years. But those donations had nothing to do with Ed Gillespie. The money couldn’t have even been made to a third party group in support of the gubernatorial candidate because they were made 10 years ago — back in 2006 and 2007.
The email came from Gillian Pentheny, the deputy finance director for the Virginia Democratic Party, so I quickly hit reply when I couldn’t find the donations she referenced. I was thinking she’d get back to me saying that her family had made the donations, or that she simply had more information than I could find via public databases. But it’s been several days and I’ve yet to hear anything.
Once it became clear I wouldn’t be hearing back, I went to VPAP again to see if I could find any additional details. The only thing I could find was that Devos’s husband, Richard, actually did give $40,000 to Gillespie’s campaign. This is a large amount of money, so that connection alone would be something that could energize opponents of Betsy DeVos.
With that being said, you have to wonder where the Democratic Party is getting the $100,000 figure from and why they aren’t being straight forward about the connection to DeVos.
I’m certainly hoping it’s just some sort of oversight and that there’s a number of donations out there that simply aren’t showing up in the VPAP database for some reason. While I’m skeptical about that since I haven’t heard back from Pentheny, I’m still holding out some hope that the Party wouldn’t blatantly be misleading in an attempt to get a few extra donations of their own.