Billionaire Betsy Devos is the richest member of Trump’s cabinet — and most of her wealth came from a company that has been called a ‘pyramid scheme’

  • US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is one of the wealthiest members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet.
  • The education secretary and her husband, former Amway CEO Dick DeVos, have an estimated net worth around $1.3 billion.
  • Their fortune partly comes from controversial multi-level marketing company Amway.
  • The DeVos’ have been major Republican donors and philanthropists for years.

President Donald Trump boasts a particularly wealthy circle of advisers.

Together they’re worth $10 billion. Trump has claimed that by appointing rich individuals he is ensuring his team is “representing the country” instead of being in it for the money, Business Insider reported.

Amidst that cluster of billionaires and millionaires, US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is one of the richest top officials with an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion.

Both the education secretary and her husband, Amway heir Dick DeVos, hailed from wealthy and powerful Michigan families. They share a conservative Christian worldview – and a desire to influence politics in Michigan and beyond.

DeVos’ reputation as a top GOP donor – and her consistent advocacy for charter schools – ultimately helped propel her to the White House.

Here’s a look at how DeVos’ immense wealth and billion dollar net worth came about:


DeVos came from a wealthy Michigan family. Her father, Edgar Prince, founded automobile parts supplier Prince Corporation. The corporation was sold to Johnson Controls Inc. for $1.35 billion in cash in 1996.

source
Mary Schwalm/Reuters

Source: The New York Times


Politico’s Zack Stanton wrote that growing up, the Princes taught their four children “a deeply religious, conservative, free-market view of the world.” They also sent all of their kids — including DeVos’ brother, Blackwater founder Erik Prince — to private schools.

source
Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Source: Politico


DeVos herself attended Holland Christian High School, and then matriculated to Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she majored in the school’s economic group.

source
Getty / Chip Somodevilla

Source: Michigan Live, Calvin College, Calvin College


In 1979, DeVos married Dick DeVos, the son of Amway cofounder Richard DeVos. As of 2016, the private, multi-level marketing company had $8.8 billion in revenue. Richard, who is now 91, also owns the Orlando Magic and is a major Republican donor.

Source: Business Insider, Politico, Forbes


DeVos’ husband Dick was the CEO his father’s company from 1993 to 2002. Amway has long been a controversial organization, with critics accusing it of essentially being a pyramid scheme. In 2010, it paid out $56 million in a class action settlement.

source
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Source: Michigan Live


DeVos’ public financial disclosure report lists her as having held roles in a number of companies that her family controls, including The Stow Company, a storage company, controversial brain training company Neurocore, and private investment group Windquest Group, Inc.

source
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Source: Michigan Live, Business Insider, Michigan Live


Today, DeVos is primarily known for her status as one of Michigan’s most powerful and canny political forces. She’s held numerous roles within the RNC and Michigan’s GOP. She and her husband have poured huge sums of money into causes like advocating for charter schools and fighting organized labor.

source
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Source: Politico, Business Insider


DeVos became involved in conservative politics at a young age, working as a “scatter-blitzer” for Gerald Ford in 1976 — who later wrote the introduction to her husband’s book. Mother Jones reported her role involved busing into different cities and dispersing campaign flyers.

source
Wikimedia Commons

Source: Mother Jones


But DeVos isn’t the first person in her family to give a ton of money to conservative causes. Her father reportedly helped found The Family Research Council, which The Southern Poverty Law Center considers a hate group because of its support of the notion that “the LGBT community is a threat to American society.”

source
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Source: Southern Poverty Law Center, The Daily Beast, The Los Angeles Times


Her mother Elsa Prince was a major donor to Proposition 8, giving $450,000 to the initiative to ban same-sex marriage in California in 2008.

source
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Source: Southern Poverty Law Center, The Daily Beast, The Los Angeles Times


Back in 1997, DeVos published a piece in the newspaper “Roll Call” defending her family’s massive contributions to the GOP and conservative causes. “I have decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence,” she wrote. “Now I simply concede the point.”

source
Mike Theiler/Reuters

Source: The New Yorker


“We do expect something in return,” DeVos wrote. “We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment.”

source
Aaron Bernstein/Reuters

Source: The New Yorker


When it comes to all of her assets, the public disclosure form indicated DeVos raked in an income between $53,962,468 and $134,894,706 between January 2016 and Spring 2017. Her income was reported in ranges, making it impossible to calculate an exact total. The information was voluntarily provided to the Office of Government Ethics.

source
Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Source: The Center for Responsive Politics, The Center for Responsive Politics, The Center for Responsive Politics


DeVos has been an active philanthropist for years, and is credited with fostering many charitable projects, especially in western Michigan. DeVos and her husband have donated to John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as numerous educational initiatives, Politico reported.

source
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Source: Business Insider, Politico


On a national level, DeVos and her husband have donated thousands to a number of conservative super PACs, including ones established by the Koch brothers and Robert Mercer.

Source: The Center for Responsive Politics, Ballotpedia, Politico, Politico, Ballotpedia, Ballotpedia, Rolling Stone, Ballotpedia, Ballotpedia, Ballotpedia


DeVos has said she isn’t looking to make money from her cabinet position. The education secretary is considered a Level 1 member of the executive branch, which reportedly comes with a base pay of $207,800. In her 2017 confirmation hearings, DeVos said would like to take home a salary of $1.

source
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Source: Forbes, Romper, The Washington Post