Debunking DeVos in The Second Debate

The Truth Squad on the distortions from Dick DeVos in last night’s debate:

“I believe in public education. The people will not see a stronger advocate for public education than me.” But Dick DeVos and his wife Betsy believe in taking public tax dollars for private education which drains money from public schools. Dick and Betsy founded All Children Matter, a national organization pushing for vouchers throughout the country. It has been widely reported that the pro-voucher group is lobbying for vouchers in Florida, Louisiana, Ohio, Missouri, Virginia, Wisconsin and Utah. There’s a reason why the Grand Rapids Press called the couple “the face of the voucher movement.” The Detroit News reported Betsy DeVos contributed $200,000 to All Children Matter just this past April. Dick and Betsy also led the unsuccessful 2000 campaign for school vouchers, spending some $10 million. And don’t forget, on December 2, 2002, DeVos made his position clear while speaking to the Heritage Foundation: “But when the time comes, we will bring the fight back to Michigan again and do everything we can there.”

DeVos said Governor Jennifer Granholm cut funding for public education. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Under Governor Granholm’s leadership, state funding for K-12 public education is at an all-time high of $7,085 per pupil. Dick DeVos wants you to believe the Governor isn’t doing enough to educate our kids, but Governor Granholm is a champion of public education. She is revolutionizing early childhood education programs to get kids ready for school. She instituted tough new curriculum standards for our kids to give them the tools they need to get 21st Century jobs, and she’s fighting to give every child in Michigan access to a $4,000 scholarship for college, a plan that DeVos’ Republican friends in the Legislature are blocking. DeVos, on the other hand, financed a ballot initiative to create a risky school voucher scheme that would have drained money from public schools and vowed to revisit the issue later.

DeVos said that a meeting was already set up with the Big Three CEOs and President Bush. It’s not true. The Associated Press reported on September 6, 2006, “A summit between President Bush and the heads of the Big Three automakers has been pushed back until after the November election, despite an expected visit to the state by Bush this week and increasing pressure from critics who say the White House is ignoring the needs of the struggling industry.” DeVos was wrong. In fact, his party said: “The president is meeting with the Big Three after the election,” Anderson said. “The president of the United States is not going to bow to political pressure from Gov. Granholm.” (Sarah Anderson, Michigan Republican Party).


Granholm Demolishes DeVos in Second Debate

It is a shame that most people in Michigan are watching the Detroit Tigers in the baseball playoffs than watching the second Granholm vs. DeVos debate as Granholm demolished DeVos. Once again DeVos avoided any specifics, while Granholm showed she had plans (even if four years wasn’t enough time to turn around the economy, especially when dealing with a Republican legislature and Republican national government). We also saw another flip flop from DeVos. In the first debate he tried to hide his opposition to embryonic stem cell research by hoping viewers didn’t realize the important distinction between embryonic and adult stem cells. This time he went even further in trying to hide his record in opposition to abortion rights.

Besides losing on the issues, DeVos lost what might be the more important test with most voters–how the candidates look with the sound turned off. DeVoss typically looked away from the camera when answering questions and had a deer in headlights look, while Granholm looked confident answering the questions while looking directly into the camera. Seeing how DeVos looked, I had the feeling he realizes his shot at politics (and using the Governor’s position as a stepping stone to the White House) is already dead.

The Michigan Democratic Party also has an ad out this week which shows how Dick DeVos is George Bush’s twin. Video here.

Muhammad Ali Endorses Granholm; DeVos Continues to Mislead


Muhammad Ali, who does not typically endorse political candidates, has endorsed Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm due to her support of stem cell research. Ali, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, backs Granholm for her support to lift the restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, while challenger Dick DeVos supports continuing the restrictions.

DeVos has been attempting to distract attention from his extremist social views by concentrating on the economy (whille refusing to provide any specifics of his economic plans). During the debate earlier this week, DeVoss attempted to hide his unpopular position in opposition to stem cell research by confusing his support for adult stem cell research for embryonic stem cell research which he opposes. Embryonic stem cell research is believed to have a much higher potential for leading to cures to problems such as Parkinson’s disease. In 2004 a majority of the Senate wrote George Bush requesting that he ease his restrictions on embryonic stem cell research (which are the same restrictions backed by Dick DeVos). DeVos’s position is even more extreme than the majority of the Repubican Party. If DeVos claims to be offering new leadership for Michigan, he should at least be honest enough to openly state his views rather than continuing to mislead to voters about his positions.

Detroit Free Press: Advantage Granholm After First Debate

The Detroit Free Press declares Jennifer Granholm the winner of the first debate:

IN OUR OPINION | ELECTION 2006: Advantage: Granholm

Governor won debate with specifics

October 3, 2006

Political debates usually find challengers on the attack and incumbents playing defense. But Gov. Jennifer Granholm reversed roles on Dick DeVos in their first debate Monday night, keeping her Republican opponent on the defensive for much of their hour together.

While too often longwinded, Democrat Granholm made the most of her opportunity to be on equal TV footing with multimillionaire DeVos, who has vastly outspent her in purchasing commercial time.

Granholm again challenged DeVos to disclose his income tax returns — as she has — and noted that a summary DeVos has released of his finances did not mention a $200-million investment in a nursing home chain that was troubled by allegations of patient abuse.

“He didn’t include that in his ‘comprehensive’ disclosure,” Granholm said. “Obviously, he didn’t want us to know. … Are there other things he doesn’t want us to know about? … $200 million, I think that’s a big investment, even for you.”

DeVos said he was only a small investor in the chain and had no management responsibility.

“It was just a tragic situation,” he said. “Turned out to be a bad investment as well.”

The governor also accused DeVos of making false statements about her in one of his ads — he charged her with the same — but neither said they’d change any commercials. And Granholm also said DeVos lobbied for foreign trade policies that have been harmful to Michigan’s manufacturing-based economy. Granholm said that when DeVos was running Grand Rapids-based Amway, the company was “sort of the poster child for how to manipulate the levers of government.” DeVos has recently called for much tighter restrictions on the activities of lobbyists in Michigan.

But when Granholm launched into detail on her jobs-creation plan, DeVos declared: “I find it amazing to hear the governor say that her plan is working when so many people in Michigan are not.” Since Granholm was elected four years ago, Michigan’s unemployment rate has risen to a nation-leading 7.1%, which she attributes largely to the retrenching of the Michigan-based U.S. auto industry as it loses ground to foreign competitors. DeVos contends that failed political leadership has played a role, too.

Generally, Granholm was long — too long — on specifics while DeVoss continued to deal in generalities. Rather than seizing obvious moments to go toe-to-toe with the governor, he preferred to characterize her attacks and rhetoric as “so disappointing.”

DeVos did say that he has a plan to replace at least half the roughly $2 billion in revenue the state will forego by eliminating its Single Business Tax, but did not say where he’d cut the balance from state spending. Granholm wants business taxes restructured to replace all of the SBT revenue, which she says is critical to maintaining state services at a time when demand for them will go up as more jobs with benefits vanish.

The freewheeling format favored Granholm. Her commercials may not be as polished or frequent as the DeVos ads, but she showed Monday that she can make up a lot of ground in the debates.

Related Story: Granholm DeVos Debate Fact Checking

Granholm DeVos Debate Fact Checking

Lots of fact checking is already posted on line following the first of three debates between Dick DeVos and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. Granholm’s campaign fact checking here. I would like to “fact check” or otherwise analyze the economic plans of Dick DeVos but there’s a problem in doing so. Once again DeVoss failed to provide any specifics. This includes a failure to comment on how he would replace the single business tax. He did admit he would only replace half the lost revenue, while failing to explain how he would cut costs to make up for the remainder of the lost revenue. Meanwhile Granholm scored big by pointing out how many years the single business tax existed under Republicans, raising questions as to whether this tax can really be seen as the cause of Michigan’s problems.

Another debate highlight was when Granholm accused DeVos of not disclosing publicly that he had invested $170 million in Alterrra, an assisted care company that was accused of allowing abuse of some of its patients. “This was an investment that was not disclosed like other interests,” Granholm said. “Perhaps because you didn’t want people to know about sexual and physical abuse of seniors.”

De Voss played down his investment in Alterra, stating his “Holdings were less than 1% of the company.” Michigan Liberal links to an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel which refers to “the investment vehicle of the DeVos Family, which owns 20% of Alterra.” Today’s math lesson: twenty percent is not the same as one percent.

DeVos continued to play this down. “It was a tragic situation,” he said. “It turned out to be a bad investment.” Michigan Liberal also includes this information on Alterra:

Alterra recently went through bankruptcy, so I guess it wasn’t a very good investment, but it’s a BAD investment for some pretty horrifying reasons. Alterra is in the nursing home business, and that business has been skirting federal laws and cutting corners for years. According to the SEC, DeVos has $173 million invested in this company.

DeVos tried to hide his opposition to stem cell research by claiming support for stem cell research to distract from the fact that he opposes embryonic stem cell research, which shows the greatest potential for developing cures to multiple diseases. At least he was more honest in stating his extremist views on abortion. He would not even make an exception in his opposition to abortion rights for either rape or incest.

DeVos and Granholm Differ on Intelligent Design

The culture wars are heating up in the race for Governor of Michigan. Dick DeVos started campaigning based upon the economy, undoubtable hoping that Governor Granholm would take the blame and Michigan voters, accustomed to moderate Republicans in the past, would vote for a change. DeVoss initially avoided discussion of his far right views, including a history of support for organizations which support an incresed role for religion in government and for school vouchers. In an interview on education with AP, DeVos supported the teaching of creationism/intelligent design in science classes:

He says teaching intelligent design along with evolution would help students discern the facts among different theories. He’d like to see local school districts be able to teach intelligent design if they choose to, although he wouldn’t require that it be taught in science classes.

“I would like to see the ideas of intelligent design that many scientists are now suggesting is a very viable alternative theory,” DeVos told The Associated Press this week during an interview on education. “That theory and others that would be considered credible would expose our students to more ideas, not less.”

In contrast, Granholm would keep religion out of the science classes:

Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm has said that Michigan schools need to teach the established theory of evolution in science classes and not include intelligent design. She says school districts can explore intelligent design in current events or comparative religions classes.

Intelligent design has recently been an issue in Michigan. Two teachers in Gulf Lake Community schools wanted to teach intelligent design as an alternative to evolution and were prevented from doing so by the school board. The school district would allow the teaching of intelligent design in an elective course on controversial issues, but not in science classes. The Thomas Moore Law Center, which represented the Dover school district which had its policy supporting teaching of intelligent design struck down, and which Dick DeVos has contributed to, is threatening to sue Gulf Lake over their policy prohibiting teaching of intelligent design in science classes.

For those of you reading this outside of Michigan, keep in mind that DeVos’s long range goal appears to be to buy the Michigan Governor’s office as a stepping stone to the White House. He even purchased the web address back in November 2004.

Dick DeVos, Voucher Warrior

I have previously noted the contributions from Dick DeVos to far right groups, including those which support vouchers, but People for the American Way give him even more “credit” as they expose those like Dick DeVos who oppose the liberties this nation was founded upon. They label DeVoss a Voucher Warrior:

Dick DeVos has used his family’s fortune and status to create an intricate national network of non-profits, political action committees and federal groups known as 527’s that effectively fund the political arm of the school voucher movement. As this profile details, DeVos money flows into the coffers of various ultra-conservative candidates, committees, and causes. Nowhere is the impact of the DeVos family fortune greater, though, than in the movement to privatize public education. After 69 percent of Michigan voters rejected a DeVos-led drive for vouchers in 2000, he and his family turned their attention in recent years to building an organizational infrastructure that pumps huge amounts of money into ballot initiatives and political races at the local, state and federal level. Since he announced in June that he would run for governor of Michigan, Dick DeVos has said that he does not plan to push for vouchers again if elected. It is unlikely that indicates a newfound lack of support for privatizing public education—rather it may simply show that he has accepted the political reality already expressed by the Michigan voters. If true, Michigan may be the only state where DeVos money is not being used to push vouchers. In 2006, the funding network he has built is putting more money into pro-voucher candidates and legislation than ever before.

The site has considerably more information on the DeVos family’s ties to the religious right.

Dick DeVos and His Lawyers At it Again

When there was an attack ad Bill Clinton didn’t like, his famous war room would respond and counter-attack. When there’s something Dick DeVos doesn’t like, he calls in the lawyers. WZZM TV reports:

The Committee for Dick DeVos for Governor has asked television stations to pull a political ad by the Michigan Democratic State Central Committee that claims DeVos invested in China while leading Amway.

The ad by Michigan Democrats has their Republican counterparts infuriated. The Democratic TV commercial claims, “After Dick DeVos laid off nearly 1,400 workers at Amway, his company in Michigan, he went to Asia. He invested over $200 million in China.

Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer says, “He laid off those people, he turned his back on Michigan and invested overseas.”

This is rather incredible after all the misleading ads DeVoss has run. Rather than turning to lawyers, the Granholm campaign responded by debunking the false ads. This isn’t the first time DeVos has turned to his attorneys to attempt to silence critics, including bloggers.

The DeVos attorneys are likley to stay very busy in light of the suit against Amway when he was in charge. MLM-Network Marketing Blog observes, “It will be interesting to see how Michigan reacts to this news. Conspiracy, Antitrust, Price fixing and Racketeering are not usually Governor-like qualities.”  Michigan Liberal has more details and writes:

Basically, the plaintiffs in this case are disgruntled “tools” sellers (i.e., motivational tapes, etc.) who got seem to have gotten fed up with the Amway pyramid and decided to tell all in federal court. Last month, you will recall the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the case can go forward. Well, that’s exactly what is now happening in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

The 75-page complaint obtained yesterday (along with 57 pages of evidence) displays the guts of Amway – internal wars and all – in vivid and exhaustive detail. There’s even a couple of mentions of the infamous Republican candidate for Governor of Michigan, a one Richard Marvin “Dick” DeVos, Jr.

Republicans for Granholm Formed

WOOD TV and WGVU radio are reporting the formation of Republicans for Granholm by Gil Ziegler, a Charlevoix businessman and former Republican candidate for Congress. Ziegler has praised Jennifer Granholm for her “21st Century Jobs Fund” and for signing 59 tax cuts into law. He was also critical of the Michigan Republican Party’s move to the right.

“This was a hard decision,” said Ziegler. “I’m going to disappoint some people in the Republican party. But, those are the extremists in the party who want to block stem-cell research and who turned out of office a good man like Congressman Joe Schwarz (MI-R 7th district).” Moderate Republican Joe Schwartz lost his primary battle to a far right Republican, Tim Walberg.

Granholm also received the endorsement of Detroit Mayor Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick on Thursday. As I reported yesterday, Granholm has taken a seven point lead over Dick Devos in the latest EPIC-MRA poll.

Granholm and Stabenow Take Leads in Polls

The latest EPIC-MRA Poll has Jennifer Granholm leading Dick DeVos 49% to 42% for Governor of Michigan. Stabenow leads Bouchard 51% to 38% in the Senate race.