Finance Billionaire Betsy Devos is the richest member of Trump's cabinet — and most of her wealth came from a company that has been called a 'pyramid scheme'

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US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is a prominent figure in Michigan politics, and a billionaire GOP donor.

DeVos once said she expects "a return on our investment" for donating money to conservative causes. play

DeVos once said she expects "a return on our investment" for donating money to conservative causes.

(Ted S. Warren/AP Images)
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  • US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is one of the wealthiest members of President Donald Trump's cabinet.
  • The education secretary and her husband, former Amway CEO Dick DeVos, have an estimated net worth around $1.3 billion.
  • Their fortune partly comes from controversial multi-level marketing company Amway.
  • The DeVos' have been major Republican donors and philanthropists for years.


President Donald Trump boasts a particularly wealthy circle of advisers.

Together they're worth $10 billion. Trump has claimed that by appointing rich individuals he is ensuring his team is "representing the country" instead of being in it for the money, Business Insider reported.

Amidst that cluster of billionaires and millionaires, US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is one of the richest top officials with an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion.

Both the education secretary and her husband, Amway heir Dick DeVos, hailed from wealthy and powerful Michigan families. They share a conservative Christian worldview — and a desire to influence politics in Michigan and beyond.

DeVos' reputation as a top GOP donor — and her consistent advocacy for charter schools — ultimately helped propel her to the White House.

Here's a look at how DeVos' immense wealth and billion dollar net worth came about:

DeVos came from a wealthy Michigan family. Her father, Edgar Prince, founded automobile parts supplier Prince Corporation. The corporation was sold to Johnson Controls Inc. for $1.35 billion in cash in 1996.

DeVos came from a wealthy Michigan family. Her father, Edgar Prince, founded automobile parts supplier Prince Corporation. The corporation was sold to Johnson Controls Inc. for $1.35 billion in cash in 1996. play

DeVos came from a wealthy Michigan family. Her father, Edgar Prince, founded automobile parts supplier Prince Corporation. The corporation was sold to Johnson Controls Inc. for $1.35 billion in cash in 1996.

(Mary Schwalm/Reuters)

Source: The New York Times



Politico's Zack Stanton wrote that growing up, the Princes taught their four children "a deeply religious, conservative, free-market view of the world." They also sent all of their kids — including DeVos' brother, Blackwater founder Erik Prince — to private schools.

Politico's Zack Stanton wrote that growing up, the Princes taught their four children "a deeply religious, conservative, free-market view of the world." They also sent all of their kids — including DeVos' brother, Blackwater founder Erik Prince — to private schools. play

Politico's Zack Stanton wrote that growing up, the Princes taught their four children "a deeply religious, conservative, free-market view of the world." They also sent all of their kids — including DeVos' brother, Blackwater founder Erik Prince — to private schools.

(Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Source: Politico



DeVos herself attended Holland Christian High School, and then matriculated to Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she majored in the school's economic group.

DeVos herself attended Holland Christian High School, and then matriculated to Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she majored in the school's economic group. play

DeVos herself attended Holland Christian High School, and then matriculated to Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she majored in the school's economic group.

(Getty / Chip Somodevilla)

Source: Michigan Live, Calvin College, Calvin College



In 1979, DeVos married Dick DeVos, the son of Amway cofounder Richard DeVos. As of 2016, the private, multi-level marketing company had $8.8 billion in revenue. Richard, who is now 91, also owns the Orlando Magic and is a major Republican donor.

In 1979, DeVos married Dick DeVos, the son of Amway cofounder Richard DeVos. As of 2016, the private, multi-level marketing company had $8.8 billion in revenue. Richard, who is now 91, also owns the Orlando Magic and is a major Republican donor. play

In 1979, DeVos married Dick DeVos, the son of Amway cofounder Richard DeVos. As of 2016, the private, multi-level marketing company had $8.8 billion in revenue. Richard, who is now 91, also owns the Orlando Magic and is a major Republican donor.

(Carlos Osorio/AP Images)

Source: Business Insider, Politico, Forbes



DeVos' husband Dick was the CEO his father's company from 1993 to 2002. Amway has long been a controversial organization, with critics accusing it of essentially being a pyramid scheme. In 2010, it paid out $56 million in a class action settlement.

DeVos' husband Dick was the CEO his father's company from 1993 to 2002. Amway has long been a controversial organization, with critics accusing it of essentially being a pyramid scheme. In 2010, it paid out $56 million in a class action settlement. play

DeVos' husband Dick was the CEO his father's company from 1993 to 2002. Amway has long been a controversial organization, with critics accusing it of essentially being a pyramid scheme. In 2010, it paid out $56 million in a class action settlement.

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Source: Michigan Live



DeVos' public financial disclosure report lists her as having held roles in a number of companies that her family controls, including The Stow Company, a storage company, controversial brain training company Neurocore, and private investment group Windquest Group, Inc.

DeVos' public financial disclosure report lists her as having held roles in a number of companies that her family controls, including The Stow Company, a storage company, controversial brain training company Neurocore, and private investment group Windquest Group, Inc. play

DeVos' public financial disclosure report lists her as having held roles in a number of companies that her family controls, including The Stow Company, a storage company, controversial brain training company Neurocore, and private investment group Windquest Group, Inc.

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Source: Michigan Live, Business Insider, Michigan Live



Today, DeVos is primarily known for her status as one of Michigan's most powerful and canny political forces. She's held numerous roles within the RNC and Michigan's GOP. She and her husband have poured huge sums of money into causes like advocating for charter schools and fighting organized labor.

Today, DeVos is primarily known for her status as one of Michigan's most powerful and canny political forces. She's held numerous roles within the RNC and Michigan's GOP. She and her husband have poured huge sums of money into causes like advocating for charter schools and fighting organized labor. play

Today, DeVos is primarily known for her status as one of Michigan's most powerful and canny political forces. She's held numerous roles within the RNC and Michigan's GOP. She and her husband have poured huge sums of money into causes like advocating for charter schools and fighting organized labor.

(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Source: Politico, Business Insider



DeVos became involved in conservative politics at a young age, working as a "scatter-blitzer" for Gerald Ford in 1976 — who later wrote the introduction to her husband's book. Mother Jones reported her role involved busing into different cities and dispersing campaign flyers.

DeVos became involved in conservative politics at a young age, working as a "scatter-blitzer" for Gerald Ford in 1976 — who later wrote the introduction to her husband's book. Mother Jones reported her role involved busing into different cities and dispersing campaign flyers. play

DeVos became involved in conservative politics at a young age, working as a "scatter-blitzer" for Gerald Ford in 1976 — who later wrote the introduction to her husband's book. Mother Jones reported her role involved busing into different cities and dispersing campaign flyers.

(Wikimedia Commons)

Source: Mother Jones



But DeVos isn't the first person in her family to give a ton of money to conservative causes. Her father reportedly helped found The Family Research Council, which The Southern Poverty Law Center considers a hate group because of its support of the notion that "the LGBT community is a threat to American society."

But DeVos isn't the first person in her family to give a ton of money to conservative causes. Her father reportedly helped found The Family Research Council, which The Southern Poverty Law Center considers a hate group because of its support of the notion that "the LGBT community is a threat to American society." play

But DeVos isn't the first person in her family to give a ton of money to conservative causes. Her father reportedly helped found The Family Research Council, which The Southern Poverty Law Center considers a hate group because of its support of the notion that "the LGBT community is a threat to American society."

(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Source: Southern Poverty Law Center, The Daily Beast, The Los Angeles Times



Her mother Elsa Prince was a major donor to Proposition 8, giving $450,000 to the initiative to ban same-sex marriage in California in 2008.

Her mother Elsa Prince was a major donor to Proposition 8, giving $450,000 to the initiative to ban same-sex marriage in California in 2008. play

Her mother Elsa Prince was a major donor to Proposition 8, giving $450,000 to the initiative to ban same-sex marriage in California in 2008.

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Source: Southern Poverty Law Center, The Daily Beast, The Los Angeles Times



Back in 1997, DeVos published a piece in the newspaper "Roll Call" defending her family's massive contributions to the GOP and conservative causes. "I have decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence," she wrote. "Now I simply concede the point."

Back in 1997, DeVos published a piece in the newspaper "Roll Call" defending her family's massive contributions to the GOP and conservative causes. "I have decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence," she wrote. "Now I simply concede the point." play

Back in 1997, DeVos published a piece in the newspaper "Roll Call" defending her family's massive contributions to the GOP and conservative causes. "I have decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence," she wrote. "Now I simply concede the point."

(Mike Theiler/Reuters)

Source: The New Yorker



"We do expect something in return," DeVos wrote. "We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment."

"We do expect something in return," DeVos wrote. "We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment." play

"We do expect something in return," DeVos wrote. "We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment."

(Aaron Bernstein/Reuters)

Source: The New Yorker



When it comes to all of her assets, the public disclosure form indicated DeVos raked in an income between $53,962,468 and $134,894,706 between January 2016 and Spring 2017. Her income was reported in ranges, making it impossible to calculate an exact total. The information was voluntarily provided to the Office of Government Ethics.

When it comes to all of her assets, the public disclosure form indicated DeVos raked in an income between $53,962,468 and $134,894,706 between January 2016 and Spring 2017. Her income was reported in ranges, making it impossible to calculate an exact total. The information was voluntarily provided to the Office of Government Ethics. play

When it comes to all of her assets, the public disclosure form indicated DeVos raked in an income between $53,962,468 and $134,894,706 between January 2016 and Spring 2017. Her income was reported in ranges, making it impossible to calculate an exact total. The information was voluntarily provided to the Office of Government Ethics.

(Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Source: The Center for Responsive Politics, The Center for Responsive Politics, The Center for Responsive Politics



DeVos has been an active philanthropist for years, and is credited with fostering many charitable projects, especially in western Michigan. DeVos and her husband have donated to John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as numerous educational initiatives, Politico reported.

DeVos has been an active philanthropist for years, and is credited with fostering many charitable projects, especially in western Michigan. DeVos and her husband have donated to John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as numerous educational initiatives, Politico reported. play

DeVos has been an active philanthropist for years, and is credited with fostering many charitable projects, especially in western Michigan. DeVos and her husband have donated to John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as numerous educational initiatives, Politico reported.

(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Source: Business Insider, Politico



On a national level, DeVos and her husband have donated thousands to a number of conservative super PACs, including ones established by the Koch brothers and Robert Mercer.

On a national level, DeVos and her husband have donated thousands to a number of conservative super PACs, including ones established by the Koch brothers and Robert Mercer. play

On a national level, DeVos and her husband have donated thousands to a number of conservative super PACs, including ones established by the Koch brothers and Robert Mercer.

(Associated Press/Carolyn Kaster)

Source: The Center for Responsive Politics, Ballotpedia, Politico, Politico, Ballotpedia, Ballotpedia, Rolling Stone, Ballotpedia, Ballotpedia, Ballotpedia



DeVos has said she isn't looking to make money from her cabinet position. The education secretary is considered a Level 1 member of the executive branch, which reportedly comes with a base pay of $207,800. In her 2017 confirmation hearings, DeVos said would like to take home a salary of $1.

DeVos has said she isn't looking to make money from her cabinet position. The education secretary is considered a Level 1 member of the executive branch, which reportedly comes with a base pay of $207,800. In her 2017 confirmation hearings, DeVos said would like to take home a salary of $1. play

DeVos has said she isn't looking to make money from her cabinet position. The education secretary is considered a Level 1 member of the executive branch, which reportedly comes with a base pay of $207,800. In her 2017 confirmation hearings, DeVos said would like to take home a salary of $1.

(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Source: Forbes, Romper, The Washington Post