DeVos Made $225 Million As Sec. of Education While Denying Relief To Defrauded College Students

When Betsy DeVos resigned on Jan. 7 in protest of Donald Trump’s riot-inciting rhetoric, a tweet from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) cast the education secretary’s legacy thusly: “Good riddance, Betsy. You were the worst Secretary of Education ever.”

DeVos’s legacy also will be that of the most prolific earner of any of Trump’s cabinet officials or any previous education secretary. According to an analysis of her financial disclosure records by CREW, DeVos made at least $225 million and possibly well over $414 million in outside income while in office. The exact amount is impossible to determine because the disclosure forms only require officials to provide a range of figures.

At least $75 million of that massive sum came from Alticor, the parent company of Amway, her late father-in-law’s multilevel marketing company. Amway has wielded political power for decades as a result of its $100 million in donations during the last 20 years to conservative candidates and groups. For DeVos those decades of political giving paid off in the form of a four-year term as the head of the agency in charge of public education, even though she had absolutely no experience in the field.

As Donald Trump’s wealthiest cabinet member, her financial entanglements and her family’s political giving raised ethical questions. She maintained a stake in Neurocore, a brain performance company targeting children, and failed to recuse from matters related to the company despite the potential for conflicts of interest.

In addition to her vast wealth-building while in office and cowardly resignation, DeVos also will be remembered for refusing to use her department’s powers to take such steps as making easier for students who had been misled by for-profits about the value of their education to have their loans forgiven. President Joe Biden’s Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona last week righted that wrong, announcing it was changing the rules under which that debt could be forgiven. It’s a move that could benefit 72,000 students and wipe out $1 billion of fraudulent loan obligations.

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