The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Meet the family that’s dropped $45 million on Michigan campaigns since 2000

DeVos. You might recognize the name. One member of that Michigan clan, Dick DeVos, ran unsuccessfully for governor there in 2006, but the family has long been involved in Michigan politics in lower-profile ways.

Since 2000, members of the DeVos family have contributed $45.6 million to state campaigns, according to a report authored by Zach Holden, a researcher at the National Institute on Money in State Politics, a Helena, Mont.-based nonprofit dedicated to shining a light on state campaign spending. Most of that total, $35.4 million, was spent by Dick DeVos and his wife, Betsy, on his failed gubernatorial campaign against former Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Dick’s father co-founded Amway, the direct sales corporation.

The rest was largely spent on state campaigns, but as with other wealthy financiers, the family seems to have found a new focus: state legislative campaign committees. From 2000 through late December, family members gave nearly $465,000 to house and senate Republican campaign committees. But after a new law doubled contribution limits on Dec. 27, the family shattered that combined record dropping $700,000 in the last two days of 2013. The move allowed them to max out their contributions before the clock reset on the 1st of the year.

The family has historically been more focused on state political parties, having contributed nearly $5 million to the state Republican party, according to the Institute. DeVos family members have also contributed more than $2.3 million to ballot measures between 2000 and 2012, with $1.75 million going into a successful battle against a 2012 measure to add collective bargaining rights to the state Constitution.