Despite significant push-back from progressives and public school backers, members of a key U.S. Senate committee are expected to confirm President Trump’s nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education, Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos, on Tuesday.
As critics point out, DeVos, a controversial school choice Republican in Michigan, has no professional experience in public schools. Nevertheless, conservatives tout her as a reformer who will aid children languishing in long-struggling public schools.
But here’s one overlooked component of this developing story: Richard Burr, North Carolina’s senior senator and a member of the Senate confirmation committee that could advance or turn back DeVos on Tuesday, has benefited from the political largesse of DeVos and her wealthy Michigan family in recent years.
According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign finance watchdog in D.C., DeVos’ family made individual contributions to Burr’s campaign in 2015 totaling $43,200. Family members each gave $2,700, the maximum amount per individual allowed for a candidate during one election cycle.
Of course, given the murkiness of federal election laws concerning Super PACs, it’s hard to gauge exactly how much DeVos cash went Burr’s way.
But it’s worth noting Burr, in the midst of a tight race with Democrat Deborah Ross last year, reportedly received a major boost weeks before Election Day from groups like the Senate Leadership Fund, a conservative Super PAC that pledged last September to spend a whopping $8 million on North Carolina television ads.
Records show DeVos’ family funneled $2.25 million to the Super PAC in 2016.
Burr is expected to cast a vote in support of DeVos Tuesday, despite blistering criticism from groups such as the American Federation of Teachers, the N.C. Association of Educators and more.