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Jun 27 2013

Awww. Amway Wasted Their Money.

The Grand Rapids area, where I live, is home to some staggeringly rich wingnuts, including the DeVos and Van Andel families (founders of Amway) and the Prince family (founders of an auto parts fortune and Blackwater). The local paper reports that they spent a ton of money on causes that the court’s marriage equality rulings negated.

West Michigan money has for years been tied up in ensuring the illegality of gay marriage. To be sure, some deep-pocketed residents pumped substantial cash into Proposition 8, California’s anti-gay marriage ballot measure.

Others have cut checks to nationwide groups like the National Organization for Marriage, one of the most outspoken defenders of the Defense of Marriage Act.

In 2008, Elsa Prince Broekhuizen, the widow of Holland industrialist Edgar Prince, donated $450,000 through their eponymous foundation to help Proposition 8 pass.

It was one of the largest private donations to that cause, which prevailed before being struck down by a San Francisco judge who found it unconstitutional.

Prince also gave $75,000 in 2004 to help pass Michigan’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Gay rights activists and Democratic lawmakers in the state now have set their sights on repealing that voter-approved prohibition.

Last year, Amway President Doug DeVos came under fire by gay rights advocates after he and wife Maria donated $500,000 to the National Organization for Marriage through their personal foundation.

Amway, the Ada-based corporate giant, defended the gift, which was given to NOM in 2009. NOM also campaigned for Proposition 8′s passage in California, and has championed anti-gay marriage causes in other states…

Prince Broekhuizen and the DeVoses also have supported organizations like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council.

Focus on the Family, which footed $400,000 to help pass Proposition 8 in California, received $350,000 from the Prince Foundation between 2006-07 and $540,000 from DeVos Sr. and wife Helen in 2006.

Prince Broekhuizen also gave $510,000 to the Family Research Council during that period. Both organizations have been ardent supporters of DOMA and Proposition 8.

Gee, it’s terrible that other people’s fight for equality cost you so much money. I feel really bad about that.

11 comments

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  1. 1
    Randomfactor

    Wonder if those NOM donations went to the “NOM Education Fund” (wink wink) and are thus tax-deductible. In other words, paid for partly by you and me. If only there were some government agency that could scrutinize right-wing “nonprofit” agencies for compliance with the law.

    Alas, that only happens in jackbooted police states.

  2. 2
    markr1957

    As I used to say in earlier days – my heart pumps purple piss for Amway. I guess the lesson learned from those magnanimous ‘education fund’ donations is that you might want to count the legs before you back a pony.

  3. 3
    Chiroptera

    I suspect that it is working out well for them. Their side may have fewer people than ours, but our incomes are a lot less so we have less money to spend on political battles after we buy groceries and pay rent. Our resources are stretched pretty thin, and I fear that the forces of darkness are actually gaining ground overall. They may have lost one battle — a battle they might not even have believed in, but to them a useful sink for our meager resources — but they may yet win the war.

  4. 4
    Spanish Inquisitor

    The positive side of all this is that it helps the economy. Instead of languishing in off shore accounts, the money goes to some bigoted organization that uses it to pay ordinary people who have bills to pay, or businesses with employees, to advertise, and conduct polls, and influence elections, and…well, you get my drift. The money in short goes back into economic circulation, and the results are a slightly elevated local economy.

    At least one hopes that’s how it works. The frosting on the cake is that in the end, what the money was spent on, didn’t work.

  5. 5
    Raging Bee

    …my heart pumps purple piss for Amway.

    That’s a lot more trouble than I ever gave ‘em.

    The positive side of all this is that it helps the economy…

    Yeah, giving our hard-earned money to bigots at home is a lot better than getting cheap imported bigotry from some other country, like China. We all know what sort of quality-control problems ou get into when you buy from them…

  6. 6
    Marcus Ranum

    Think of it as economic stimulus. Nice of them to spend some of their wealth in the community, even if it’s only spent on professional liars, marketing, and crap.

  7. 7
    Loqi

    Pardon me while I go delight in the irony of Amway getting scammed out of money.

  8. 8
    robertfaber

    Amway Hotel Corp is staffed by a great many gay and lesbian workers, including the food and beverage manager. I used to work there. I’ve seen the interaction between those two families and gays, and oddly enough, it was pleasant. Same thing on Peter Island, I’m told. It makes me think these donations are simply bets on horse race politics, because honestly, they don’t seem to give a shit about it in private.

  9. 9
    lclane2

    Although advertising was unsuccessful in this case in the long run it’s replacing professional expertise as a policy determinant.

  10. 10
    footface

    I totally don’t get this kind of thing. If you spent your time and money and sweat in an effort to help someone, and you won, you’d have the satisfaction of knowing that you made someone’s life better. “Yes, I’m out all that money,” you might say, “but look what I was able to do with it!”

    But if you spent your money to spite people, what do you say if your side prevails? “Yes, I’m out all that money, but… at least I made things more difficult for a bunch of people”?

  11. 11
    pamsmigh

    Wouldn’t it serve them right if the “culture wars” were set up by a secret group of attorneys who decided 50 years ago to set up a never-ending battle of God-ists vs. the rest so they could rake in the dough for lobbying and ad’ing for generations.

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