Billionaire Betsy DeVos Still Owes Millions to the Buckeye State

Senate to Consider DeVos’s Nomination as Education Secretary on Wednesday

COLUMBUS — Billionaire Betsy DeVos will go before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions this Wednesday for consideration as Secretary of Education, but she still owes Ohio taxpayers $5.3 million in fines and fees — a debt that Ohio Republican officials have failed to collect for five years.

“By refusing to pay more than $5 million owed by her PAC, billionaire Betsy DeVos is acting like she thinks the law doesn’t apply to her,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “Until she reimburses the taxpayers of Ohio for the millions she owes us, DeVos should be disqualified from any post in the Trump administration.

“Still one has to wonder, why have Ohio Republicans refused to collect on DeVos’s debt for years? The Ohio Elections Commission turned over collection of the fine to Attorney General Mike DeWine in 2011, but Ohio taxpayers have yet to see a dime from billionaire Betsy. She once bragged in an op-ed that she expected ‘something in return’ for all of the donations she doled out to politicians. Maybe what she’s expecting is the right to flout the law and leave Ohioans high and dry?”

In 2008, the Ohio Elections Commission found that DeVos used her All Children Matter political action committee illegally to launder campaign contributions from Ohio charter school magnate David Brennan to Ohio Republicans including Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, Secretary of State Jon Husted and former Senate President Keith Faber.

Those aren’t the only Ohio Republicans to benefit from DeVos’s largesse. DeVos has personally given $7,700 to Gov. John Kasich’s political efforts — $5,000 to his gubernatorial campaign in 2010 and $2,700 to his presidential race in 2015. DeVos attended the 2016 Republican National Convention as an at-large delegate for Kasich.

Ohio’s for-profit charter school system costs taxpayers $1 billion annually, and it’s rife with waste, fraud and abuse. Concerned about charters’ dismal academic results and data-rigging by state regulators, the U.S. Department of Education last year flagged a $71 million grant to expand charter schools in Ohio and imposed special restrictions and oversight for the grant.