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Campaign finance reformers demand Burr recuse himself from considering Trump Ed Secretary nominee over $43K in contributions

Two national advocacy groups dedicated to combating big money corruption in politics are calling on Senator Richard Burr to recuse himself from considering Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. Education Secretary. And from the sounds of the following release distributed by the groups (End Citizens United and Every Voice) they’ve got a heck of a strong argument.

See what you think:

Campaign Finance Reformers to Senator Burr: Recuse Yourself on DeVos Nomination

North Carolina members of End Citizens United and Every Voice demand recusal of Sen. Burr, who has personally benefited from DeVos donations

DeVos, a zealous opponent of campaign finance safeguards, represents the worst of a rigged Washington system

Money-in-politics reform groups End Citizens United and Every Voice today kicked off a grassroots campaign with a petition calling on Senator Richard Burr to recuse himself from voting on the nomination of Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education.

Republican mega-donor Betsy DeVos and her family have funneled more than $20 million to Republican campaigns, their super PACs, and their dark money allies across the country. [1]  That includes nearly $43,000 in direct contributions to Burr, who sits on the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pension committee, which has jurisdiction over her nomination. [2]

DeVos has said that she’s, “decided…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.” [3]

“Donald Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos represents the worst of the rigged system in Washington,” said Tiffany Muller, End Citizens United Executive Director.  “She’s admitted to using her millions to buy influence and now the same Senators that she funneled money to are voting on her nomination.  This is outrageous pay-to-play politics.  Our members are calling on Senator Burr to acknowledge his conflict of interest and recuse himself from the vote on her nomination.”

“Voters didn’t go to the polls wishing to see our government end up even more in the pocket of big donors,” said David Donnelly, President and CEO of Every Voice.  “If Senator Burr does not recuse himself after benefiting from DeVos’ donations, we’ll have the appearance of a high-ranking government position that can be bought by and sold to the highest bidder.  When you have a nominee who has admitted to ‘buying influence’ by giving millions to politicians, it is impossible to be sure she will receive the scrutiny this important position deserves.”

Americans are fed up with a broken system in Washington that rewards a small band of special interests and shuts out everyone else.  The DeVos nomination doubles down on that system.

A zealous advocate for overturning safeguards to our campaign finance system, she founded an organization which had a sole directive: end all legal restrictions on money in politics. [4]  She’s also led a group that exploits the law to spend millions in anonymous “dark” money in our elections, she’s broken campaign finance law and refused to pay the penalties, and she’s donated money to the very members of Congress who must approve her appointment. [5][6][7]

Additional Background and Citations Related to Betsy DeVos’ Pay to Play Politics and Political Contributions: 

  • Betsy DeVos has given $115,000 to sitting Senators, per their FEC reports.
  • The DeVos family has given more than $900,000 to sitting Senators, per those same reports.
  • The DeVos family has also given over $10 million to Super PACs, PACs, and party committees that have directly helped those Senators’ campaigns. This total includes $2.75 million to the Koch Brothers-run “Freedom Partners Action Fund,” $1 million to the Mitch McConnell-backed “Senate Leadership Fund,” $1 million to the Karl Rove-run “American Crossroads”, $890,600 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and $5.9 million to the Republican National Committee.

###

[1] “Betsy DeVos and her big-giving relatives: Family qualifies as GOP royalty.” Jack Noland and Anna Massoglia, The Center for Responsive Politics, 12/1/16

[2] The Richard Burr Committee, FEC Form 3, 4/14/15

[3] Betsy DeVos, Roll Call, 9/6/97

[4] Mayer, Jane. Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. New York: Doubleday, 2016. p. 246.

[5] “Betsy DeVos and her big-giving relatives: Family qualifies as GOP royalty.” Jack Noland and Anna Massoglia, The Center for Responsive Politics, 12/1/16

[6] “Democrats call on DeVos to pay $5 million in long-overdue elections fines.” Benjamin Wermund, Politico, 12/14/16

[7] “DeVos heads into confirmation with a megadonor’s advantage.” Michael Stratford, Politico, 12/20/16

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