By that point, Betsy DeVos was already a major Engler backer—she had served as the GOP chair in powerful Kent County, and in 1992, won one of the state’s seats on the RNC, ousting Ronna Romney (sister-in-law of Mitt Romney and mother of Ronna Romney McDaniel, whom Trump has chosen to helm the RNC). But education reform had long been a passion, and now she had an opportunity to help the governor who was enacting the changes she so badly wanted.
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Though they aren’t quite as large or wealthy as the DeVoses, the Prince family—even further west, in Holland, Michigan—shares one big trait in common with their in-laws: the idea that patriotism and politics are inseparable from Christianity. Elsa Prince Broekhuizen, Betsy’s mother, donated $75,000 to the successful 2004 ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage in Michigan; four years later, she gave $450,000 to an identical initiative in California. Betsy’s brother, Erik Prince, founded Blackwater, the military contractor that gained notoriety in 2007, when its employees fired into a crowd of Iraqi civilians, killing 17. (In 2009, two former Blackwater employees alleged in federal court that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader.”)
Their vertically integrated supply chain is one of longest in the industry. In addition to running plants, they own organic farms. They have farms in Brazil, Mexico, and the state of Washington where they grow and harvest key botanical ingredients like echinacea, spinach, alfalfa, watercress, and cherries. They then take those products and manufacture intermediates. Cherries, for example, are processed for Vitamin C. These intermediates they both use in their own products and sell to other companies.