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Blackwater Founder and West Michigan Native Funds Right-wing through Foundation


Black­wa­ter USA founder and West Michi­gan native Erik Prince funds a vari­ety of rightwing and reli­gious caus­es accord­ing to a review of grants award­ed by Prince’s Frei­heit Foun­da­tion. Prince, who’s Black­wa­ter has drawn con­sid­er­able atten­tion for its work in Iraq, post-Kat­ri­na New Orleans, and Colom­bia, also has strong ties to the eco­nom­ic and reli­gious right both through the con­tri­bu­tions of his Frei­heit Foun­da­tion as well as his par­ents, Edgar and Elsa Prince, who are promi­nent sup­port­ers of the reli­gious right both in West Michi­gan and on the nation­al lev­el. Addi­tion­al­ly, Erik Prince’s sis­ter is Bet­sy DeVos, who mar­ried into one of West Michigan’s most well-known rightwing fam­i­lies and has made been a career orga­niz­er for rightwing and Repub­li­can caus­es. While sev­er­al reports on Prince have made some men­tion of his lin­eage and his polit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tions, there has been no detailed exam­i­na­tions of his “phil­an­thropy.”

From 2000 to 2003, the Frei­heit Foun­da­tion gave finan­cial sup­port to three orga­ni­za­tions that can be described as being a part of the eco­nom­ic right—the Grand Rapids-based Acton Insti­tute, the Amer­i­can Enter­prise Insti­tute, and the Grand Rapids-based Edu­ca­tion Free­dom Fund. The two enti­ties with roots in Grand Rapids also are orga­ni­za­tions in which Prince’s sis­ter Bet­sy DeVos has had a lead­er­ship role. The Acton Institute—a think-tank blend­ing reli­gion and free-mar­ket economics—has received more than $210,000 in fund­ing from the Frei­heit Foun­da­tion. The Edu­ca­tion Free­dom Fund, also based in Grand Rapids and direct­ed by Bet­sy and Dick DeVos, received $30,000 from the Frei­heit Foun­da­tion in sup­port of the DeVos­es ongo­ing orga­niz­ing in favor of school vouch­ers and the pri­va­ti­za­tion of edu­ca­tion in the Unit­ed States. In 2001, Prince’s foun­da­tion gave $30,000 to the Amer­i­can Enter­prise Insti­tute (AEI), one of the more promi­nent rightwing think-tanks and a strong sup­port­er of both free-mar­ket eco­nom­ics as well as the Bush administration’s for­eign pol­i­cy. The AEI sup­ports an aggres­sive impe­ri­al­ist pol­i­cy and has sev­er­al mem­bers that are part of the same group of neo­cons involved in the Project for a New Amer­i­can Cen­tu­ry that cam­paigned for the Iraq War.

While Prince’s fam­i­ly has con­tributed great­ly to reli­gious right groups, Prince’s foun­da­tion has pri­mar­i­ly fund­ed con­ser­v­a­tive Catholic or evan­gel­i­cal orga­ni­za­tions that do not have clear ties to the reli­gious right. A major excep­tion is the Frei­heit Foundation’s $500,000 grant to ex-Water­gate felon Chuck Colson’s Prison Fel­low­ship, an evan­gel­i­cal min­istry oper­at­ing with­in the Unit­ed States’ prison sys­tem and receiv­ing finan­cial back­ing from a vari­ety of reli­gious right fun­ders. The Frei­heit Foun­da­tion has also fund­ed Chris­t­ian Free­dom Inter­na­tion­al, a group that works to doc­u­ment the per­se­cu­tion of Chris­tians around the world and pro­vides aid in the form of phys­i­cal assis­tance and coor­di­nat­ed prayer. The orga­ni­za­tion is led by for­mer Rea­gan White House offi­cial Jim Jacob­son who is a mem­ber of the secre­tive reli­gious right Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy (Prince’s foun­da­tion gave a $450 to the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy in 2001). The Frei­heit Foun­da­tion gen­er­ous­ly funds a num­ber of oth­er reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing the Hag­gai Insti­tute, an orga­ni­za­tion found­ed in 1969 to train Asian, African, and Latin Amer­i­can Chris­t­ian lead­ers to “train oth­ers” and evan­ge­lize for the Chris­t­ian faith, who was giv­en $200,000 in 2001. Cri­sis Mag­a­zine, a self-described “polit­i­cal­ly con­ser­v­a­tive” mag­a­zine that reports on con­tem­po­rary cul­ture through a “tra­di­tion­al Catholic” per­spec­tive, has received a nom­i­nal amount of fund­ing from the Foun­da­tion ($3,500). Con­tro­ver­sial and anti-gay Sen­a­tor Rick San­to­rum is one of the magazine’s reg­u­lar colum­nists. Catholic Answers, a group that pub­lish­es tracts and oth­er lit­er­a­ture to aid Catholics in evan­ge­liz­ing. The group came under some scruti­ny in 2004 for a vot­er guide that it pro­duced out­lin­ing five issues that it termed as “non-nego­tiable” for Catholics—abortion, gay mar­riage, embry­on­ic stem cell research, euthana­sia, and human cloning—and argu­ing that Catholics should vote for can­di­dates that have the church’s posi­tion on these issues (source).

Prince has also sup­port­ed uni­ver­si­ties, includ­ing Catholic Uni­ver­si­ty of Amer­i­ca (which main­tains a “Mar­riage Law Project” report­ing on efforts to define and pre­serve mar­riage as between het­ero­sex­u­al cou­ples only (source) and Chris­ten­dom Col­lege, both of which firm­ly believe in the impor­tance of reli­gion in every­day life. Prince has also pro­vid­ed $195,000 to the Insti­tute for World Pol­i­tics, a grad­u­ate school in Wash­ing­ton DC offer­ing train­ing in “state­craft” by exam­in­ing diplo­ma­cy, mil­i­tary strat­e­gy, the for­ma­tion of opin­ion, and oth­er such top­ics taught by for­mer gov­ern­ment offi­cials from the Depart­ment of Defense, Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency, and oth­er such agen­cies as well as pri­vate insti­tu­tions such as the Amer­i­can Enter­prise Insti­tute. Like the Amer­i­can Enter­prise Insti­tute, the Insti­tute for World Pol­i­tics pro­motes a for­eign pol­i­cy in line with that of the Bush administration—a pol­i­cy that has func­tioned to help Black­wa­ter earn gov­ern­ment con­tracts and to increase Prince’s own for­tune.


4 comments for “Blackwater Founder and West Michigan Native Funds Right-wing through Foundation”

  1. Great infor­ma­tive arti­cle! I am try­ing to find out who or what groups donate to Black­wa­ter. Maybe we can boy­cott Black­wa­ter’s fun­ders. We have to stop the Chris­to fas­cist threat to Amer­i­ca.

    Posted by David Cook | May 4, 2010, 11:44 am
  2. The UN is mulling greater use of pri­vate con­trac­tors for peace-keep­ing mis­sions: Pic­ture Black­wa­terXeAcad­e­mi employ­ees with blue hel­mets:

    Pan­el: UN reliance on pri­vate secu­ri­ty firms grows
    By ALEXANDRA OLSON, Asso­ci­at­ed Press Writer | August 1, 2013 | Updat­ed: August 1, 2013 6:11pm

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — An expert pan­el called Thurs­day for more trans­paren­cy sur­round­ing the deep­en­ing reliance of the Unit­ed Nations on pri­vate secu­ri­ty com­pa­nies for ser­vices from armed guards to police train­ing.

    The Work­ing Group on the Use of Mer­ce­nar­ies, an inde­pen­dent pan­el man­dat­ed by the U.N. Human Rights Coun­cil, held a series of meet­ings and debates this week as part of its ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into a prac­tice that is draw­ing increas­ing scruti­ny. The five-mem­ber group plans to present a report next year.

    The dis­cus­sion with­in the Unit­ed Nations echoes a wider debate over the role of high-priced secu­ri­ty firms in con­flicts world­wide.

    The U.N. has hired some of the same com­pa­nies whose con­trac­tors drew out­rage for vio­lent or insen­si­tive behav­ior while work­ing for the U.S. mil­i­tary in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some aca­d­e­mics and U.N. mem­ber coun­tries wor­ry that the Unit­ed Nations is com­pro­mis­ing its legit­i­ma­cy by involv­ing such firms in its peace­keep­ing and peace build­ing oper­a­tions.

    “We should not and do not want to wait until an atroc­i­ty occurs before we have in place a con­ver­sa­tion and sys­tem of deter­min­ing account­abil­i­ty,” said Work­ing Group mem­ber Gabor Rona, a human rights advo­cate. “Because vio­la­tions will occur.”

    While the U.N. has tak­en steps to clar­i­fy its poli­cies, pan­el mem­bers said many issues remain unre­solved. Among those is how to hold con­trac­tors account­able for abus­es com­mit­ted in the field and the estab­lish­ment of an over­sight mech­a­nism to ensure com­pli­ance with inter­na­tion­al stan­dards.

    Com­pli­cat­ing the sit­u­a­tion, secu­ri­ty com­pa­nies are some­times hired not by the Unit­ed Nations but by mem­ber states par­tic­i­pat­ing in its mis­sions. Most recent­ly, mil­i­tary con­trac­tor Dyn­Corp announced in April that it won a State Depart­ment con­tract for up to $48.6 mil­lion to help sup­port a U.S. con­tin­gent to the peace­keep­ing mis­sion in Haiti. Dyn­Corp, based in Fall Church, Vir­ginia, said it will recruit and finance offi­cers to join the Haiti mis­sion’s police unit.

    Dyn­Cor­p’s involve­ment in U.N. oper­a­tions has been con­tro­ver­sial in part because the com­pa­ny secret­ly coor­di­nat­ed flights for the ren­di­tion ter­ror­ism sus­pects to CIA-oper­at­ed over­seas pris­ons. The firm also drew crit­i­cism in 2005 when three of its guards assigned to the pro­tec­tive detail of Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai got drunk and caused a scene in the VIP lounge of the Kab­ul air­port. Dyn­Corp fired the three guards.


    U.N. offi­cials said the world body needs pri­vate secu­ri­ty firms because its grow­ing peace­keep­ing oper­a­tions and oth­er mis­sions increas­ing­ly oper­ate in regions where con­flicts are no longer between gov­ern­ment armies that respect U.N. per­son­nel, but between insur­gents who do not.

    Syr­i­an insur­gents have repeat­ed­ly attacked peace­keep­ers in the Golan Heights, prompt­ing the U.N. to bol­ster its 40-year-old mis­sion there. Peace­keep­ers fre­quent­ly come under attack in Africa and gun­men have killed U.N.-backed polio vac­ci­na­tion work­ers in Pak­istan.

    “Twen­ty years ago, the pro­tec­tion of a blue U.N. flag was para­mount and respect­ed more or less by all,” said Rick Cot­tam, who deals with secu­ri­ty issues for the U.N. Staff Fed­er­a­tion. “Unfor­tu­nate­ly, we’ve seen over the years more and more direct, tar­get­ed attacks on U.N. staff. A lot of the staff that we lose unfor­tu­nate­ly are local­ly recruit­ed staff and there are orga­ni­za­tions and insur­gents who are direct­ly tar­get­ing U.N. staff.”

    In a speech last year, U.N. Assis­tant Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al for Legal Affairs Stephen Math­ias called the increas­ing attacks “a dis­turb­ing trend” that “has led to an increased use of armed pri­vate secu­ri­ty com­pa­nies.” He said the U.N. had recent­ly adopt­ed a pol­i­cy that estab­lish­es that such firms must only be engaged as a last resort. It requires that they sub­scribe to an “Inter­na­tion­al Code of Con­duct for Pri­vate Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice Providers,” which was cre­at­ed in 2010 through mul­ti­lat­er­al dis­cus­sions.

    Crit­ics note that the inter­na­tion­al code is not a legal­ly bind­ing doc­u­ment. Faiza Patel, a mem­ber of the Work­ing Group, also not­ed that most indi­vid­ual coun­tries have not com­mit­ted to a sim­i­lar require­ment when hir­ing pri­vate secu­ri­ty firms to help in their par­tic­i­pa­tion in U.N. mis­sions.

    So the UN’s reponse to a loss of respect of the UN by insur­gents and an increas­ing num­ber of attacks on UN troops is going to involve hir­ing firms like Dyn­Corp to improve the sit­u­a­tion? There have to be solu­tions to the tar­get­ting of local­ly recruit­ed UN staff that don’t involve hir­ing noto­ri­ous for­eign mer­ce­nar­ies so hope­ful­ly the UN will get cre­ative. Just not too cre­ative:

    Al-Qae­da Back­ers Found With U.S. Con­tracts in Afghanistan
    By Tony Capac­cio — Jul 29, 2013 11:01 PM CT

    Sup­port­ers of the Tal­iban and al-Qae­da in Afghanistan have been get­ting U.S. mil­i­tary con­tracts, and Amer­i­can offi­cials are cit­ing “due process rights” as a rea­son not to can­cel the agree­ments, accord­ing to an inde­pen­dent agency mon­i­tor­ing spend­ing.

    The U.S. Army Sus­pen­sion and Debar­ment Office has declined to act in 43 such cas­es, John Sop­ko, the Spe­cial Inspec­tor Gen­er­al for Afghanistan Recon­struc­tion, said today in a let­ter accom­pa­ny­ing a quar­ter­ly report to Con­gress.

    “I am deeply trou­bled that the U.S. mil­i­tary can pur­sue, attack, and even kill ter­ror­ists and their sup­port­ers, but that some in the U.S. gov­ern­ment believe we can­not pre­vent these same peo­ple from receiv­ing a gov­ern­ment con­tract,” Sop­ko said.

    The 236-page report and Sopko’s sum­ma­ry pro­vide one of the watch­dog agency’s most crit­i­cal appraisals of U.S. per­for­mance in help­ing to build a sta­ble Afghanistan as the Pen­ta­gon pre­pares to with­draw com­bat troops by the end of next year.

    “There appears to be a grow­ing gap between the pol­i­cy objec­tives of Wash­ing­ton and the real­i­ty of achiev­ing them in Afghanistan, espe­cial­ly when the gov­ern­ment must hire and over­see con­trac­tors to per­form its mis­sion,” said Sop­ko, whose post was man­dat­ed by Con­gress.

    The Pen­ta­gon is sched­uled to deliv­er its own Afghanistan sta­tus report to Con­gress today. Its appraisal, which is months late, will out­line progress from Octo­ber 2012 through March and con­cerns that deal with hand­ing over secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions to the Afghan mil­i­tary.
    Main­tain­ing Over­sight

    The U.S. has 60,000 troops in Afghanistan, with plans to reduce the num­ber to 34,000 by Feb­ru­ary. Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma hasn’t decid­ed how many to keep in the coun­try after 2014 to train Afghan forces and engage in anti-ter­ror­ist mis­sions.

    Sop­ko expressed pes­simism that the U.S. can main­tain effec­tive over­sight of bil­lions of dol­lars in recon­struc­tion spend­ing as forces are with­drawn. The Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion has request­ed $10.7 bil­lion in such fund­ing for fis­cal 2014 to cov­er projects from improv­ing local gov­ern­ment to build­ing roads and schools.

    “Unless the U.S. gov­ern­ment improves its con­tract-over­sight poli­cies and prac­tices, far too much will be wast­ed,” Sop­ko wrote.

    Accord­ing to the report, Sopko’s agency “has found it impos­si­ble to con­firm” the num­ber of con­tracts award­ed in a $32 mil­lion pro­gram to install bar­ri­cades, bars or grat­ings in cul­verts at about 2,500 Afghan loca­tions to pre­vent insur­gents from plac­ing road­side bombs. The explo­sives are the biggest killer of U.S. and Afghan troops.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 1, 2013, 10:05 pm
  3. Michi­gan’s bat­tle over the right to work for less mon­ey was nev­er going to be easy. Bold lead­er­ship would be required:

    Moth­er Jones
    Meet the New Kochs: The DeVos Clan’s Plan to Defund the Left
    They beat Big Labor in its own back­yard. Next up: your state?

    —By Andy Kroll
    | January/February 2014 Issue

    IN THE PREDAWN TWILIGHT of Decem­ber 4, 2012, Randy Richardville, the Repub­li­can major­i­ty leader of the Michi­gan Sen­ate, called an old friend to deliv­er some grim news. Richardville’s two-hour com­mute to the state capi­tol in Lans­ing gave him plen­ty of time to check in with friends, staff, and col­leagues, who were accus­tomed to his ear­ly morn­ing calls. None more so than Mike Jack­son.

    Jack­son and Richardville had grown up in the auto town of Mon­roe, 40 miles south of Detroit. Jack­son now head­ed Michi­gan’s 14,000-member car­pen­ters and mill­wrights’ union, which had endorsed Richardville, a mod­er­ate Repub­li­can, for 10 of the 12 years he’d served in the state Leg­is­la­ture.

    “Guess where I was last night,” Richardville said.

    Jack­son was­n’t in a guess­ing mood—and it was­n’t just the ear­ly hour. Since the elec­tion a few weeks ear­li­er, Repub­li­cans had been aim­ing to use the cur­rent lame-duck ses­sion to ram through a con­tro­ver­sial piece of leg­is­la­tion known as right-to-work. Such laws, already on the books in 23 states, out­lawed con­tracts requir­ing all employ­ees in a union­ized work­place to pay dues for union rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Jack­son and oth­er labor lead­ers were scram­bling to head off the bill, wide­ly regard­ed as a dis­as­ter for unions. Richardville, who had once told a hotel con­fer­ence room filled with union mem­bers that right-to-work would pass “over my dead body,” was one of the votes they’d count­ed on.

    Richardville said he’d spent the pre­vi­ous evening at a fundrais­er in west­ern Michi­gan. At one point dur­ing the event, he was escort­ed into a pri­vate room where a dozen wealthy busi­ness moguls were wait­ing for him. Some he rec­og­nized as heavy hit­ters in Michi­gan pol­i­tics; oth­ers had flown in from out of state.

    One of the men in the room glared at Richardville. “You got­ta grow a set and move this leg­is­la­tion,” the man said, refer­ring to right-to-work. Had he ever run for office? Richardville asked. The man said no. “Well, when you grow a set and give that a try,” Richardville snapped, “then you can talk about the size of my tes­ti­cles.”

    Jack­son was wide awake now. “Good for you,” he said. “How’d it end?”

    “Mike, you’re fu cked,” Richardville said. “They’ve got all the mon­ey they need, they’re going up on the air, and they’re going to push this free­dom-to-work thing.”

    Was­n’t there some way to head off the bill? Jack­son asked. “They’ve got my cau­cus,” Richardville replied. “You can’t imag­ine the pres­sure I’m under.”

    The pres­sure came large­ly from one man present at that fundrais­er: Richard “Dick” DeVos Jr. The 58-year-old scion of the Amway Cor­po­ra­tion, DeVos had arm-twist­ed Richardville repeat­ed­ly to sup­port right-to-work. After six years of bid­ing their time, DeVos and his allies believed the 2012 lame duck was the time to strike. They had for­mu­lat­ed a sin­gle, all-encom­pass­ing strat­e­gy: They had a fusil­lade of TV, radio, and inter­net ads in the works. They’d craft­ed 15 pages of talk­ing points to cir­cu­late to Repub­li­can law­mak­ers. They had even reserved the lawn around the state capi­tol for a month to keep pro­test­ers at bay.

    A week after Richardville’s ear­ly morn­ing call to Jack­son, it was all over. With a stroke of his pen on Decem­ber 11, Gov. Rick Snyder—who’d pre­vi­ous­ly said right-to-work was not a pri­or­i­ty of his—now made Michi­gan the 24th state to enact it. The gov­er­nor marked the occa­sion by recit­ing, near­ly ver­ba­tim, talk­ing points that DeVos and his allies had dis­trib­uted. “Free­dom-to-work,” he said, is “pro-work­er and pro-Michi­gan.”

    THE DEVOSES sit along­side the Kochs, the Bradleys, and the Coors­es as found­ing fam­i­lies of the mod­ern con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment. Since 1970, DeVos fam­i­ly mem­bers have invest­ed at least $200 mil­lion in a host of right-wing causes—think tanks, media out­lets, polit­i­cal com­mit­tees, evan­gel­i­cal out­fits, and a string of advo­ca­cy groups. They have helped fund near­ly every promi­nent Repub­li­can run­ning for nation­al office and under­writ­ten a laun­dry list of con­ser­v­a­tive cam­paigns on issues rang­ing from char­ter schools and vouch­ers to anti-gay-mar­riage and anti-tax bal­lot mea­sures. “There’s not a Repub­li­can pres­i­dent or pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in the last 50 years who has­n’t known the DeVos­es,” says Saul Anuzis, a for­mer chair­man of the Michi­gan Repub­li­can Par­ty.

    Nowhere has the fam­i­ly made its pres­ence felt as it has in Michi­gan, where it has giv­en more than $44 mil­lion to the state par­ty, GOP leg­isla­tive com­mit­tees, and Repub­li­can can­di­dates since 1997. “It’s been a gen­er­a­tional com­mit­ment,” Anuzis notes. “I can’t start to even think of who would’ve filled the void with­out the DeVos­es there.”

    The fam­i­ly for­tune flows from 87-year-old Richard DeVos Sr. The son of poor Dutch immi­grants, he cofound­ed the mul­ti­level-mar­ket­ing giant Amway with Jay Van Andel, a high school pal, in 1959. Five decades lat­er, the com­pa­ny now sells $11 bil­lion a year worth of cos­met­ics, vit­a­min sup­ple­ments, kitchen­ware, air fresh­en­ers, and oth­er house­hold prod­ucts. Amway has earned DeVos Sr. at least $6 bil­lion; in 1991, he expand­ed his empire by buy­ing the NBA’s Orlan­do Mag­ic. The Koch broth­ers can usu­al­ly expect Richard and his wife, Helen, to attend their bian­nu­al donor meet­ings. He is a life­long Chris­t­ian con­ser­v­a­tive and cru­sad­er for free mar­kets and small gov­ern­ment, val­ues he passed down to his four chil­dren.

    Today, his eldest son, Dick, is the face of the DeVos polit­i­cal dynasty. Like his father, Dick sees orga­nized labor as an ene­my of free­dom and union lead­ers as vio­lent thugs who have “an almost patho­log­i­cal obses­sion with pow­er.” But while DeVos Sr. sim­ply inveighed against unions, Dick took the fight to them direct­ly, orches­trat­ing a major defeat for the unions in the cra­dle of the mod­ern labor move­ment.

    Pass­ing right-to-work in Michi­gan was more than a pol­i­cy vic­to­ry. It was a major score for Repub­li­cans who have long sought to weak­en the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty by attack­ing its sources of fund­ing and orga­niz­ing mus­cle. “Michi­gan big labor lit­er­al­ly con­trols one of the major polit­i­cal par­ties,” Dick DeVos said last Jan­u­ary. “I’m not sug­gest­ing they have influ­ence; I’m say­ing they hold total dom­i­nance, com­mand, and con­trol.” So DeVos and his allies hit labor—and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party—where it hurt: their bank accounts. By attack­ing their oppo­nents’ rev­enue stream, they could help put Michi­gan into play for the GOP head­ing into the 2016 pres­i­den­tial race—as it was more than three decades ear­li­er, when the state’s Rea­gan Democ­rats were key to win­ning the White House.

    More broad­ly, the Michi­gan fight has giv­en hope—and a road map—to con­ser­v­a­tives across the coun­try work­ing to crip­ple orga­nized labor and defund the left. Where­as par­ty activists had for years viewed right-to-work as a pipe dream, a deter­mined and very wealthy fam­i­ly, putting in place all the ele­ments of a clas­sic polit­i­cal cam­paign, was able to move the nee­dle in a mat­ter of months. “Michi­gan is Stal­in­grad, man,” one promi­nent con­ser­v­a­tive activist told me. “It’s where the bat­tle will be won or lost.”


    Amway’s suc­cess and its con­ser­v­a­tive ethos cat­a­pult­ed both the elder DeVos and Van Andel into the high­est reach­es of Repub­li­can pol­i­tics. Van Andel, who died in 2004, chaired the US Cham­ber of Com­merce in 1979 and 1980, and he gave mil­lions to Repub­li­can and con­ser­v­a­tive orga­ni­za­tions in his life­time. DeVos, mean­while, was an ear­ly mem­ber and fun­der of the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, a secre­tive net­work of hard­line con­ser­v­a­tive lead­ers found­ed by Left Behind author Tim LaHaye. Ahead of the 1980 elec­tions, Ronald Rea­gan per­son­al­ly asked DeVos to lead the GOP’s nation­al fundrais­ing efforts. Short on cash and reel­ing from Jim­my Carter’s elec­tion and the after­shocks of the Water­gate scan­dal, the par­ty need­ed all the help it could get. As the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee’s finance chair­man, DeVos raised $46.5 mil­lion ($132 mil­lion in today’s dol­lars).

    He fit the part of GOP rain­mak­er-in-chief, wear­ing a dia­mond pinkie ring and Guc­ci loafers, dri­ving a Rolls-Royce, and fre­quent­ly com­mut­ing to his near­by office by heli­copter. He once docked Amway’s $5 mil­lion yacht on the Potomac Riv­er in Wash­ing­ton to hold court with Michi­gan’s con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tion, RNC staffers, and per­son­nel from 12 embassies rep­re­sent­ing coun­tries where Amway did busi­ness. DeVos was also a stri­dent voice with­in the par­ty: In an era when Repub­li­cans still court­ed labor, he urged the GOP to ignore union mem­bers. “If they want to be rep­re­sent­ed by some­body else,” he once said, “good for them.” At a par­ty meet­ing in 1982, he called the reces­sion that was spik­ing infla­tion and unem­ploy­ment “ben­e­fi­cial” and “a cleans­ing ton­ic” for soci­ety.


    Remem­ber kids: when the unwashed mass­es begin to even vocal­ize dis­con­tent over the state of affairs it’s a repeat of Kristall­nacht. But bil­lion­aires that spend decades ‘per­suad­ing’ elect­ed rep­re­sen­tives to ban unions are like David slay­ing Goliath. Except in this ver­sion of the sto­ry there’s more than one Goliath and a whole cabal of Davids.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 25, 2014, 7:41 pm
  4. Vig­i­lante jus­tice in the mid­dle of a war zone may not be very jus­tice-ori­ent­ed:

    TPM Edi­tor’s Blog
    Black­wa­ter Knocked Down Probe By Threat­en­ing to Kill Inves­ti­ga­tor

    Josh Mar­shall – June 30, 2014, 12:47 AM EDT

    Over the course of the last decade, Black­wa­ter became a noto­ri­ous sym­bol of mil­i­tary con­tract­ing run amok, with price-goug­ing, reck­less behav­ior and your occa­sion­al atroc­i­ty. So it’s hard to imag­ine any­thing com­ing out that would gen­uine­ly shock any­one. Until this.

    Accord­ing to doc­u­ments reviewed by The New York Times, State Depart­ment inves­ti­ga­tor had already begun prob­ing Black­wa­ter a short time before the infa­mous Nisour Square shoot­ing in 2007. But the probe broke down when Black­wa­ter’s top guy in Iraq threat­ened to kill the lead inves­ti­ga­tor, sug­gest­ing, not improb­a­bly, that amid the anar­chy of Iraq it could be eas­i­ly cov­ered up as just anoth­er moment of sec­tar­i­an vio­lence or a ter­ror­ist attack.

    From the Times ...

    Just weeks before Black­wa­ter guards fatal­ly shot 17 civil­ians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, the State Depart­ment began inves­ti­gat­ing the secu­ri­ty contractor’s oper­a­tions in Iraq. But the inquiry was aban­doned after Blackwater’s top man­ag­er there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief inves­ti­ga­tor and “no one could or would do any­thing about it as we were in Iraq,” accord­ing to depart­ment reports.

    Amer­i­can Embassy offi­cials in Bagh­dad sided with Black­wa­ter rather than the State Depart­ment inves­ti­ga­tors as a dis­pute over the probe esca­lat­ed in August 2007, the pre­vi­ous­ly undis­closed doc­u­ments show. The offi­cials told the inves­ti­ga­tors that they had dis­rupt­ed the embassy’s rela­tion­ship with the secu­ri­ty con­trac­tor and ordered them to leave the coun­try, accord­ing to the reports.

    Read the whole sto­ry.

    Con­jec­ture can be a dan­ger­ous thing. But it’s fright­en­ing but not hard to imag­ine what oth­er kinds of rough “jus­tice” of this sort Black­wa­ter employ­ees might have been able to mete out to Amer­i­cans or Iraqis. As the “top man­ag­er” put it, it was Iraqi, ran­dom killings, sui­cide bomb­ings and more were com­mon­place. No one would ever know or be able to do any­thing about it if they did.


    So was this an iso­lat­ed event? Or a symp­tom of some­thing worse?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 30, 2014, 9:45 am

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