Wednesday, September 27, 2006

DeVos Calls the Kettle Black

I wonder if Dick DeVos ever heard of this expression: The pot calling the kettle black.

I say that because this morning the Detroit Free Press reported that "Devos wants Lansing legislators to follow his example and use their own dime, rather than lobbyist-paid junkets, to travel and enjoy tickets to sports and entertainment events."
"I think the perception out there is far worse than the reality," DeVos told the Free Press, after a speech to the Rochester Rotary Club. "But we have to make sure that we're working for the citizens of Michigan, not the special interests."
That's really laughable considering the DeVos family is a lobbying entity in and of themselves. Seriously. Take a look at these facts the MDP put out in a press release today:
LANSING- Today the Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer sharply refuted Dick DeVos’ claim that he would implement a package of “Special Interest” bills as Governor. Brewer pointed out how hypocritical DeVos’ position is given that he has not only been directly associated with numerous political action committees (PACs), but he has even created several of them. DeVos has given millions of dollars to Republican candidates and campaigns and lobbied them for legislation that benefited him and his company Amway.

DeVos’ wife Betsy wrote in a 1998 Roll Call opinion editorial, “I know a little something about soft money, as my family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party. I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect some things in return.”

“An ethics bill from a man who has a long history of soft money influence peddling is like having the fox guard the chicken coop. This is DeVos’ campaign using more than just a little ‘political license,’ it is hypocrisy and deception at its worst,” Brewer said. “DeVos’ own wife admits that their family buys influence and they expect things in return. They have given millions of dollars from their PACs and own personal wealth to ensure that they continue to profit at the expense of the people.”

Dick DeVos personally created the PAC Restoring the American Dream in 1997. The Detroit Free Press reports that the PAC “has given $1 million to scores of Republican candidates around the country, mostly those running for the U.S. House and Senate.”

Dick DeVos was also one of the founding members of the Great Lakes Education Project and All Children Matter, a state and federal PAC to promote school vouchers. Dick DeVos also oversaw the creation of Altipac, a political action committee formed when he was the President of Alticor (Amway).

The Center for Responsive Politics reported that while Dick DeVos was President of Amway, the company gave nearly $7 million dollars to Republican candidates and organizations. Common Cause reported in 1994 that Amway made record-setting soft-money contribution of $2.5 million to the Republican Party. Dick DeVos and Amway used that soft-money influence to successfully lobby for Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China (PNTR) and other trade agreements.

Business Week reported in 1995 that Dick DeVos was a key member to then Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s “Corporate Kitchen Cabinet.” The Washington Post cites Gingrich as the central figure to inserting a tax loophole into the 1997 federal tax and budget bill which primarily benefited Amway and its Asian investments, to the tune of nearly $300 million according to Common Cause.

DeVos personally allowed Tom DeLay to hold a Republican Majority Issues Committee meeting on his yacht.

“I noticed that DeVos’ ethics package did not include limitations on using your family’s yacht to funnel millions into political campaigns,” Brewer said. “It also did not include anything about disclosing tax returns. Dick DeVos’ campaign has been trying to hide the real DeVos from the people of Michigan and this press stunt is just another attempt to hide him further.”

The Republican Legislature has refused to support Governor Granholm’s reform measures that will strengthen ethics laws, increase financial disclosure requirements, and reform campaign finance laws.

To view DeVos’ family contributions visit the Detroit Free Press’ breakdown of their donations.
The Free Press also mentioned Granholm's reform measures:
In April, Granholm trumpeted bills that would require full financial disclosure by all elected officials, a beefed-up State Board of Ethics, a ban on state employees who manage and award contracts from soliciting campaign contributions from vendors and a ban on public officials accepting contributions in a state building.

Granholm's proposals would have had an impact on DeVos had they been Michigan's law this year. She wanted to expand a requirement for financial disclosure for statewide elected officials to include candidates for state office, as well as all legislators and candidates for the Legislature.
That bill was defeated. Instead, a series of so-called campaign finance reform bills promoted by Republican Mike Ward were approved. House Bill 6128 allegedly regulates so-called "soft money,” but that's an audacious claim according to Mike McGonegal (candidate for the Michigan House):
Rich Robinson, Director of the non-partsian Michigan Campaign Finance Network, said in published reports in June that the bill favors Republicans because they rely on wealthy individuals for contributions. He also said an individual who violates the law faces up to three years in prison and fines of up to $5,000 or both, but if a large corporation or company violates the law all they face is a fine of up to $10,000. Huge corporations like Enron, other energy companies and pharmaceutical companies that funnel huge amounts of cash to Republicans would have no deterrent to continuing that practice. [emphasis added]
How convenient for DeVos. I bet he sleeps easier at night knowing his rhetoric is nothing but empty air as long as he has Mike Ward and other Republicans on his side.


Lew Scannon said...

DeVos either has tiny feet, or a big mouth. Great finds!

Anonymous said...

Off topic, how can we contact you kathy if we want to send some news tips?

Kathy said...

Anonymous, you can e-mail me at:

One of these days I'll figure out how to add that to the sidebar!