Campbell Brown, co-founder of the education-news website The 74. (Andrew Burton/Reuters)

Former network TV anchor Campbell Brown has always said she wanted her education-news site, The 74, to be perceived as a nonpartisan source for improving the nation’s primary- and secondary-school education.

But Donald Trump may have just dumped a major conflict of interest right into Brown’s, and The 74’s, lap.

By naming billionaire philanthropist Betsy DeVos as his pick for secretary of education on Wednesday, Trump put Brown in the awkward position of covering one of her closest allies.

A foundation headed by DeVos was among the wealthy education-restructuring advocates that funded Brown’s website when it launched last year. DeVos and Brown — formerly an NBC News anchor and the host of a prime-time show on CNN — are also on the board of the American Federation for Children, which promotes charter-school and government-funded vouchers to subsidize private education. The AFC and The 74 co-sponsored a forum involving Republican presidential candidates last year.

All of which means The 74 would be covering the policy pronouncements and initiatives of one of the people to which it owes its existence.

News organizations sometimes wrestle with subjects and people that are close to their own interests. The Washington Post, for example, is owned by founder Jeffrey P. Bezos, whose company and activities are occasionally the subject of Post stories and editorials. In such cases, the connection between the paper and its owner is disclosed within the article.

But in DeVos’s case, The 74’s interests are more direct, overlapping and constant. As a site seeking to lead “an honest, fact-based conversation” free of “misinformation and political spin” about the United States’ under-18 population, its coverage of DeVos and her advocacy of school vouchers and charter schools will be inherent in almost everything it publishes.

DeVos’s appointment appears to place the site, which is named for the 74 million school-age children in the United States, in much the same position as Breitbart, the digital conservative-news operation. Breitbart’s executive chairman, Stephen K. Bannon, has been named Trump’s chief White House strategist.

Brown referred questions about her operation to a spokesman, Dan Bank, who said the site discloses its funding relationships in a note published with stories in which the relationships are relevant.

A recent analysis by 74 writer Matt Barnum included this note: “The Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation provides funding to The 74, and the site’s Editor-in-Chief, Campbell Brown, sits on the American Federation for Children’s board of directors, which is chaired by Betsy DeVos. Brown played no part in the editing of this article. The American Federation for Children also sponsored The 74’s 2015 New Hampshire education summit.”

That’s not enough, say those who oppose DeVos and the education-restructuring agenda.

“Given the fact that Betsy DeVos is a funder of The 74, it is hard to see how the publication can cover her appointment fairly,” said education historian Diane Ravitch, who has clashed with Brown and DeVos on policy matters before. In view of the close “personal and financial ties” between DeVos and Brown, Ravitch said, the site “should not cover the U.S. Department of Education for the next four years.”

Here's what you need to know about the man who went from Breitbart News chairman to Donald Trump's campaign CEO before his appointment as chief White House strategist and senior counselor. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

Brown has previously recused herself from making editorial decisions for her site about the AFC and the Success Academy charter-school network because she sits on the board of both organizations.

Bank said, however, that Brown will not need to recuse herself from coverage of DeVos, because DeVos will step down from the AFC and her family foundation will no longer be funding The 74 if she is confirmed as education secretary.

Since leaving CNN in 2010 as the host of a program originally titled “No Bias, No Bull,” Brown has been one of the most visible faces of a movement that seeks to challenge teachers unions while advocating for the further privatization of public education. Many of her stated positions align with those of DeVos, who has been a longtime advocate for shifting public funds from public schools to charters operated by private entrepreneurs and for taxpayer-funded vouchers that subsidize the cost of private schools.

In late 2013, Brown founded the Partnership for Educational Justice, a nonprofit group that seeks to overturn teacher-tenure laws that give underperforming teachers due process in dismissal actions. She has also been outspoken in favor of charter schools.

Upon launching her website last year, Brown acknowledged that her site would straddle the line between journalism and advocacy “for a public school system that truly serves the 74 million children in this country.”

She wrote at the time: “I have learned that not every story has two sides. And I will not allow for false equivalency when a child’s future is being compromised, regardless of the vitriol it provokes.”