FOX23 Investigates: Could millions in DeVos family donations sway senate confirmation votes?

By: Katie Higgins

Updated:

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Quick facts:

  • Controversial cabinet pick Betsy DeVos and her family reportedly donated money to 23 of 100 U.S. senators.
  • Some say she tried to buy votes through the donations. 
  • FOX23 reached out to an Oklahoma senator who received donation money from DeVos' family. The senator's officials did not respond.

 

Some say President Donald Trump’s controversial nominee to head the Department of Education tried to buy votes through campaign donations to legislators across the nation, including right here in Oklahoma.

Candidate contribution records show Betsy DeVos and her family paid millions of dollars to the very senators who will vote for or against her confirmation.

DeVos, the born-wealthy Michigan business woman who married into a billion-dollar family and even deeper ties to Washington, has been a controversial figure for her policies and the money trail behind her.

FOX23 Investigative Reporter Katie Higgins combed through campaign contribution records and learned which legislators received cash from the DeVos family.

The records showed that they gave more than $31,000 to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), more than $12,000 to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and $1,000 to Oklahoma’s Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK).

As a matter of fact, records show that DeVos and her family donated to at least 23 of the 100 American senators.

FOX23 reached out to Inhofe’s camp to learn whether or not the donation would sway the Oklahoma senator’s vote, but we did not receive a response.

Local residents said they are unhappy with Trump’s pick and the effects it could have on the future of the country’s education.

One area resident, however, told FOX23 they like DeVos, because they are “into performance-based merit in education.”

Resident April Ireland said she just wants to DeVos to think about kids like hers, who rely on free and public education.


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Right now, the Senate is split 50-50 for DeVos’ confirmation.

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) says the many concerns people have about DeVos’ support for private school vouchers will not be an issue.

Two Republican senators say they oppose the nominee. If there is no majority vote concerning her confirmation, Vice President Mike Pence will cast a tie-breaking vote to confirm her.

It would mark the first time in U.S. history a vice president would have to break a tie for a cabinet pick.

The vote is slated for Monday.


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