Why the Office of Government Ethics Needs Weeks to Investigate Betsy DeVos
I do not often agree with the New York Times (NYT) editorial opinions on education. However, even they are worried about the financial entanglements of Michigan billionaire and US ed secretary nominee, Betsy DeVos.
An excerpt from the January 10, 2017, NYT editorial board opinion piece on DeVos:
As the Senate races forward with confirmation hearings this week, the spottiest disclosures have come from wealthy private-sector nominees with no governing experience and many potential conflicts. In other words, the people most in need of a complete ethics review.
Exhibit A is Betsy DeVos, a billionaire and education lobbyist who is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary. Ms. DeVos’s finances are a tangle that could take weeks to investigate. Despite that, Republicans had set her confirmation hearing for Wednesday. But late Monday night, they pushed it back to next Tuesday. …
[DeVos and her hisband Dick] have investments in some 250 companies registered to a single Grand Rapids, Mich., address…. [The DeVos] investments could take weeks for the ethics office to research. Already, though, there are reports that the DeVoses are indirect investors in Social Finance Inc., a private company that refinances student loans. Private lenders like Social Finance are banned from most of the direct student lending market; their lobbyists have already written to the Trump transition team pitching to change that.
The NYT editorial board then questions whether DeVos also has a financial stake in for-profit colleges or ed tech operations. Such information should be clear– and in the public eye– prior to a Senate vote on her confirmation.
And, as the NYT editorial board continues, there’s the damaging DeVos influence on public education in Michigan:
…She has poured money into charter schools advocacy, winning legislative changes that have reduced oversight and accountability. About 80 percent of the charter schools in Michigan are operated by for-profit companies, far higher than anywhere else. She has also argued for shutting down Detroit public schools, with the system turned over to charters or taxpayer money given out as vouchers for private schools. In that city, charter schools often perform no better than traditional schools, and sometimes worse.
The NYT editorial board wonders what the rush is to bring to a vote nominees whose backgrounds remain incompletely examined.
It’s a critical question.
The NYT ed board thinks the speedy confirmations are to catch Republican Senators before a handful express their doubts and think for themselves when voting.
That surely is how it seems– which means it is up to the public to apply continued pressure for a fully-informed Senate prior to the DeVos vote.