Education News

DeVos family allies use fake Super PAC to attack MI gov candidate Gretchen Whitmer

by Félix Pérez

A secretive group with ties to the Betsy DeVos family and pretending to be managed by Democrats is attacking Michigan gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer with online ads in the weeks before the state’s primary elections.

Priorities for Michigan, not listed in any Michigan campaign finance, nonprofit or corporate database records, is running misleading ads against Gretchen Whitmer designed to appear as if they are coming from progressives, reported The Detroit News.

The group shares a mailing address with the Republican organization “A League of Their Own,” whose website lists former Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger and Tony Daunt as “coaches.” Bolger currently serves on the board of directors for the Great Lakes Education Project, a charter school advocacy group founded by DeVos and her husband, and Daunt serves as executive director of the DeVos-funded Michigan Freedom Fund.

Gretchen Whitmer, center, with volunteers

Bolger and Daunt did not return calls from The Detroit News seeking comment.

“Republican billionaires like the Koch brothers and Betsy DeVos must really be scared by Gretchen Whitmer to create a fake Democratic super PAC to smear her record with progressive voters,” said Zack Pohl, communications director for the Whitmer campaign.

Whitmer is the Democratic front-runner in a gubernatorial election against Bill Schuette, a private school voucher advocate and the recipient of $122,800 in campaign donations since 2010 from DeVos and her family’s organizations, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. Whitmer, the daughter and granddaughter of educators, is being backed by the 140,000-member Michigan Education Association.

Whitmer has made undoing the DeVos agenda a central part of her campaign. “Education shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but Republicans in Lansing have consistently sided with Betsy DeVos to push an education agenda that includes slashing school funding, expanding unaccountable for-profit managed charter schools, over-emphasizing standardized tests, attacking hard-working educators and adopting a one-size-fits-all approach to education,” she wrote.

The Michigan primary election is Aug. 7.

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