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Betsy DeVos Earned At Least $45 Million While In Office Last Year – Forbes

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(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Education secretary Betsy DeVos and her husband, Amway heir Dick DeVos, earned at least $45 million last year, according to an early draft of her government-mandated financial disclosure obtained by Forbes.

That figure likely understates the earnings of such a wealthy couple, since ethics laws allow for income to be listed in broad ranges that top out at $5 million, or even just $1 million if the asset is owned solely by the official’s spouse—which means the couple’s actual earnings may have been dramatically higher.

The largest source of income they reported stems from their primary source of wealth: Alticor, the parent company of multilevel marketing giant Amway. Dick’s father cofounded the business, which reported $8.8 billion in revenues last year, in 1959. Through a series of trusts, Dick and Betsy own stakes in Alticor that generated at least $7 million in capital gains, interest and dividend income in 2018.

They also took in $6.2 million from RDV Corp., a family office that does everything from managing the DeVos family’s yachts and household staff to investing their billions. RDV, which is run by an outside CEO but governed by a family council, has plowed much of the family fortune into extensive private equity and real estate investments, including a sports complex in Orlando and a resort in the Bahamas.

The couple earned more than $5.5 million in 2018 as investors in a handful of private equity funds managed by AEA Investors, a $15 billion (assets) firm that counts the Rockefeller and Mellon families as founders. DeVos made at least $5 million when an AEA entity cashed out its stake in a privately held packaging company earlier this year, according to the disclosure. Other government documents, filed earlier this year, indicate that the true number may be even higher—between $25 million and $50 million. Similarly, the education secretary reported earning at least $5 million when a vehicle lighting manufacturer in which the DeVoses held a stake was acquired for $420 million. Other documents indicate her actual take may have been as much as $25 million.

DeVos reported earning $3.8 million from NC Alexander Co-Invest, L.P., which appears to be registered on the island of Jersey, a notorious tax haven. Her previous disclosure forms say the entity owns a “provider of full service, European credit management services.” She also reported nearly $1.7 million in income from Gaillon S.C.A., a private equity fund that has stakes in European retail and chemical companies. Gaillon appears to be registered in Luxembourg. The Department of Education did not respond to a request for comment for this story. A spokesperson for RDV Corp. clarified that NC Alexander and Gaillon are “private equity investments managed by third party entities.”

DeVos, whose father was a multimillionaire businessman and whose brother is Blackwater founder Erik Prince, collected money from at least 85 separate sources last year. The federal government, however, was her smallest income source. Before taking office, DeVos pledged to donate all but $1 of her salary to charity. If she had instead held onto all of her $199,700 salary, it would have been her 23rd-largest source of income last year—tucked between earnings from a small stake in the Chicago Cubs and cash distributed from a private equity investment registered in the Cayman Islands.

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