By Sean Kosofsky
By now most of you know the cult leader, soap-salesman and pyramid marketing con-artist Dick DeVos Jr. is running for governor of the great State of Michigan. He has spent $15 million introducing himself to voters outside of his native, Grand Rapids and fashioning himself as a pro-business moderate trying to get Michigan “back to work.”
Dick DeVos Jr. is the son of multi-billionaire AmWay founder Richard DeVos. Richard DeVos and his wife, Helen, are some of the biggest funders of right-wing causes in America. Dick DeVos Jr. and his wife, Betsy, have continued that tradition of trying to re-work our nation in their narrow fundamentalist image of what is good and decent.
Betsy DeVos is former chair of the Michigan Republican Party and she and Dick are the leading financial supporters of the National Republican Party. Betsy was the driving force behind the ballot measure in 2000 that attempted to gut public schools in order to support tax-payer subsidized private and religious “voucher” schools. That initiative went down in flames, showing one of the first signs that the DeVos agenda was too far right for Michigan.
Betsy is the daughter of Edgar and Elsa Prince, founders of an auto supplier that eventually was sold to Johnson Controls. The Princes are also huge right-wing financiers. Both families have displayed similar philanthropic trends. Support for the Promise Keepers, anti-abortion rights organizations, the Boy Scouts of America, the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family. The DeVos and Prince families have been some of the leading forces in gay bashing through grant-giving. But until recently, few people had connected the dots between Dick DeVos Jr. (candidate for governor) and the boycott on Ford Motor Company.
Triangle Foundation recently exposed the fact that Dick Jr.’s in-laws are funding the boycott. To make this a little clearer for folks, allow me to say it like it is. Dick DeVos Jr. is running for governor on a single message – jobs – and his wife’s family is trying to put one of our state’s leading manufacturers out of business. You see, we found that the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation gave a “continuing support” grant of $10,000 to the American Family Association of Michigan, which is based in Midland in 2002. This is the chapter of the AFA run by Captain Homophobe himself, Gary Glenn. Triangle Foundation decided to blow the whistle on this family connection, so that DeVos doesn’t get away with avoiding tough questions about his family’s support of the boycott.
This is not about partisan politics, but it is about a man claiming to be best suited to bring jobs back to Michigan. How can he claim to do that when the family he is so close to is working to undermine his vision and his campaign promise? He needs to either condemn the Ford Boycott or distance himself from his family’s philanthropic ties to the AFA. Unless he does that, the hypocrisy will hurt him among moderates who are solely focused on economic recovery and GLBT Republicans and their family and friends.
DeVos has worked hard not to show his true right-wing colors, and he has been blasted by the AFA for not catering more to social conservatives. DeVos can no longer hide behind the moderate mask that he has worn this entire election year. And GLBT voters need to not be fooled that DeVos is running for governor in order to improve the economy. DeVos would be a disaster for Michigan.
If a Republican like DeVos were to win the gubernatorial race, it would set back our state by decades. Every anti-GLBT piece of legislation imaginable would fly through the Republican controlled legislature and be signed before anyone knew what happened. State resources would dramatically shift toward faith-based charities that would continue to discriminate against minorities, including GLBT people. He would roll-back progress on civil rights, work to dismantle public education and move Michigan so far to the right, that we wouldn’t recognize our state at all.
DeVos is hoping we won’t remember his days at AmWay. And he hopes he can avoid the tough questions until Nov. 7. We have less than two months to tell our friends about the DeVos/Ford Boycott connection, so let’s get to it.