What Is It Like To Be Rich? Like, Really, Really Rich.

One thing’s for sure, I have no personal experience at being wealthy.  If I were, doubt I would drive a car that is 18 years old and has 215,000 miles on it.

But someone who does fit this description if Betsy DeVos, the Michigan billionaire who Donal Trump has nominated to become his Secretary of Education.  Never mind that she has not education training, never attended a public school or sent her children to one.  After all, as we’ve seen too often in Alabama, you don’t need to know anything about how schools work to know how to make them better.

And how rich is DeVos?  That I don’t know.  But I do know that she is someone who gives LOTS of money for political purposes.

Each nominee must submit info for the confirmation process that gives us a good idea of who they are, what they’ve done and how they support politics.  Here is the questionnaire that DeVos turned in.  Pages 9-18 show her political contributions for the last five years.

You find that she made 392 contributions that totaled $5.8 million.  Tha’s an average of $14,869.  I understand politics and money and have written some checks myself.  But I sure ain’t in Betsy’s league.

One thing of interest is that Alabama pops up on the first page of this contributions.  Since 2014 she gave $150,000 to the Alabama Federation for Children.  This was doled out for both legislative seats and state school board campaigns.

DeVos and her husband created the American Federation for Children and the Alabama group is tied to them.  She gave $970,000 to the national group in the last five years.  She also gave to similar groups in Arkansas, Louisiana, Nevada, Tennessee and Wisconsin.  Alabama got more than any of the others.

(John Kirtley of Tampa is the vice-chair of the American Federation for Children.  He also heads the scholarship granting organization (SGO) in Florida called Step Up For Students.  This is the controlling entity for the Bob Riley SGO, Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund.  Kirtley is on Riley’s board of directors.  So you have to figure that DeVos has an Alabama connection.)

DeVos plays the field when it comes to presidential poltics as she contributed to Mitt Romney, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich and Marco Robio.  But not Donal Trump.

She is a staunch Republican as demonstrated by the $702,000 given to the Michigan Republican Party, $125,000 to the Republican Governor’s association and $300,000 to the House Republican Campaign Committee..

One $5,000 contribution caught my eye.  This was to Tony Bennett who was Indiana superintendent of Public Instruction (an elected position) when he ran for re-election in 2012.  He lost to Democrat Glenda Rtiz.  Bennett then was hired to head the public school system in Florida.  However, not long after going to the Sunshine State, it was discovered that Bennett played a role in a scheme in Indiana to change the letter grade of a charter school from a C to an A.  (Indiana is one of 17 states with A-F school grading and the charter owner was a Bennett contributor.)

I have no bias toward rich folks.  But I do have to wonder that in Alabama where more than half of our 740,000 public school students get free and reduced lunches, can someone like Betsy DeVos relate to the challenges faced by schools in places like Pine Hill, Fruithurst or Arley?  If your world is one of $1 million checks, limos and private planes, can you really walk in the shoes of a mother on welfare in a mobile home 18 miles from town in Clarke County?

 

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