As the billionaires, bankers, and corporate chiefs tapped to lead the Trump administration work their way through the disclosures required by the confirmation process, onlookers have been given a rare glimpse into the personal finances of the billionaire class. And in the case of education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos, filings reveal a sprawling fortune embedded throughout the U.S. economy.
DeVos and her husband, Dick, are billionaires, and their marriage brought together two massive Midwestern family fortunes. They have long used their money as a political lever on education issues in Michigan and across the country, pushing their ideas alongside a multi-decade stream of donations to Republican lawmakers and lobby groups. In her confirmation hearing, DeVos said that her family had likely given around $200 million to Republican causes.
But they've also used their money in a more traditional way: to buy things. So many things.
The web of Betsy DeVos's vast wealth touches nearly every state in the union, from Hawaiian forests to Texan oil towns. It stretches across the old and new economies: Via both direct investments and investment funds, she and her husband disclosed stakes in Whole Foods, CorePower Yoga, and a company that makes energy bars out of crickets. They also reported a more than $1 million stake in Theranos, the troubled blood-testing startup, and an investment in Sportsman Tracker, a mobile app for hunters that monitors weather conditions and lunar movements to "determine your species-specific peak kill times."