Senators call for Trump’s education secretary nominee to pay $5.3M in fines

DeVos has neither responded to their letter, nor announced any plans to ensure payment of the delinquent fines.

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In a letter to Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, several Democratic Senators called on her to pay the $5.3 million in fines and penalties owed by her political action committee (PAC) for numerous campaign finance violations. Besides appointing a devout religious zealot to head the Education Department, President-elect Donald Trump nominated a woman who refuses to pay her debts at a time when Americans owe nearly $1.3 trillion in federal student loans.

“We are writing to express significant concerns about the failure of the All Children Matter Political Action Committee (PAC) to pay Ohio $5.3 million in fines and late fees for violating the state’s campaign finance laws,” Democratic Sens. Bernie Sanders, Mark Udall, Sherrod Brown, Jeff Merkley, and Edward Markey recently wrote in a letter to Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos. “At the time of the violations, you were the head of the organization, and you and your husband were one of the PAC’s biggest contributors.”

Married to Dick DeVos, Betsy is the daughter-in-law of Richard DeVos Sr., the founder of Amway, a cosmetic retailer repeatedly accused of operating as a pyramid scheme. Her brother, Erik Prince, is notorious for founding the mercenary group Blackwater, which was responsible for murdering innocent civilians in Iraq.

“Rather than pay the fines for violating the law, the All Children Matter PACs simply ceased operation and never paid the significant sum it owed to the state of Ohio,” the senators wrote. “The blatant disregard for the law that your PAC demonstrated is deeply troubling. However, when the organization’s violations of law were punished by the Ohio Elections Commission, the PAC’s refusal to take responsibility and pay the fines is unconscionable.”

The senators continued, “If confirmed as Secretary of Education, you would be responsible for administering our nation’s student loan programs and ensuring that borrowers repay their loans in a timely manner. However, the PAC that you chaired failed to pay fines that were imposed on it over eight years ago. This demonstrates a serious lack of judgment by the PAC’s board and a willingness to avoid paying legally obligated public debts.

“Prior to your confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, we request that you take the necessary steps to ensure payment of all fines and penalties imposed on the All Children Matter PACs by the Ohio Elections Commission and the state courts.”

On Wednesday, Sanders reminded the American public about a 1997 op-ed that Betsy DeVos wrote for the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, in which she claimed: “[M]y family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican party … I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now, I simply concede the point. 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; we expect a good and honest government. Furthermore, we expect the Republican party to use the money to promote these policies, and yes, to win elections.”

DeVos has neither responded to their letter, nor announced any plans to ensure payment of the delinquent fines.

On Wednesday, Sanders took to Twitter and wrote, “If the cabinet Trump appointed of billionaires & millionaires is anti-establishment, I would hate to see what the establishment looks like.”

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