Billionaire Betsy DeVos – President-elect Donald Trump's pick for education secretary – has donated to the campaigns of 17 senators who will consider her nomination, four of whom sit on the committee that oversees the process, Politico reported.
According to Politico, Senate education committee members Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Tim Scott, R-S.C., have collectively accepted $50,000 from DeVos and her husband since 2010.
In that same time period, the couple contributed more than $160,000 to senators who will consider the nomination, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
And together, they made about $2.7 million in political contributions in 2016, including donations to Republican Senate leadership PACs, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The analysis also determined over the past 25 years, DeVos and her husband donated more than $7.7 million to Republican candidates and parties across the country.
"It's just another reflection of the distortion of our politics due to massive campaign contributions," Robert Weissman, president of the watchdog group Public Citizen, told Politico. "People who receive campaign contributions from her are far less likely to scrutinize her than people who have not."
Scott suggested plenty of President Barack Obama's nominees had given money to Democrats, while Karina Petersen, a spokeswoman for Murkowski, said her Senate office does not "follow what contributions are made to Sen. Murkowski's campaign, nor do we take them into account when considering an issue, or taking official action in the U.S. Senate."
Sens. Cassidy and Burr did not respond to requests for comment.
Senate education committee chair, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who is not on the list of DeVos contribution recipients, downplayed the donations' influence on the confirmation process.
"All of that is disclosed," he told Politico. "You can ask those senators and evaluate it yourself. That's the reason we have limits on campaign contributions, and we have disclosures of those things."
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