DeVos and his MoJo

With the U.S. Senate set to debate the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill during the next few weeks, people interested in the issue should check out the Mother Jones Web site ( and its listing of the top 400 contributors to the 2000 federal election.

Near the head of that list is Michigan’s own Richard M. DeVos Sr., the right-wing icon who co-founded the Amway empire. DeVos placed No. 12 among all contributors nationwide, giving a hefty $764,000 to Republican candidates.

But that figure represents only a portion of the soap salesman’s political activity during the last election cycle. According to the magazine, DeVos and his family “invested more than a third of the $12.9 million raised to persuade Michigan voters to divert funds from public schools into private-school vouchers — a referendum defeated last November by a 2-to-1 margin.”

The magazine also reports that the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation spread around $95.1 million between 1990 and 1997, with nearly a third of those millions going to groups that promote Christian values. Missing out on that largesse, however, are homeless shelters and food banks. Seems Mr. DeVos doesn’t want the destitute getting too much enjoyment out of their plush lives on the dole. “I don’t want to make ’em too comfortable there,” he told the Grand Rapids Press. “I want them to get a little desperate to go out and find their way out of it.”

And what better way to work your way out of poverty than by pushing Dick’s soap?

In all, the magazine reports, a record $3 billion poured into federal campaigns during the last election, with an estimated 55 percent going to Bush and GOP candidates for Congress.

“$696 million of that came from corporations and wealthy executives eager to underwrite the Republicans’ hands-off approach to business,” explained MoJo. “When campaign contributions are divided into 10 broad industries ranging from agribusiness to transportation, it becomes clear that every major business sector except lawyers and communications sided firmly with Bush.”

News Hits is edited by Metro Times news editor Curt Guyette. He can be reached at