Marco Rubio Took Almost $100,000 From Betsy DeVos' Family Before Confirming Her Today

Remember over the summer when Marco Rubio waxed eloquent about how he and his fellow U.S. senators would be a strong "check and balance" on Donald Trump? Hahahaha! That was a funny one, Marco.

Rubio now has a sterling 100 percent voting record backing all of President Trump's nominees and plans, according to FiveThirtyEight's Trump tracker. He did his latest solid for the Don today by voting to confirm Betsy DeVos as secretary of education over protests from basically every public school teacher in the nation.

But Rubio's help in DeVos' razor-thin approval is especially unsurprising. It turns out DeVos — a multibillionaire with zero educational experience — and her family have been especially generous donors to Rubio's campaign coffers. In fact, Rubio accepted more DeVos cash than any other senator who backed her nomination today.

Rubio has taken a total of $98,300 from DeVos and her family members, according to Federal Election Commission reports crunched by the Center for American Progress (CAP).

That's a decent chunk of cash, even in a GOP Senate where DeVos rained nearly $1 million. And as the CAP noted, DeVos hasn't been shy about why she donates so heavily to Republican causes.

“I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence,” DeVos told Roll Call back in the late '90s. “Now I simply concede the point. They are right... We expect a return on our investment.”

To be fair, in that quote DeVos was referring to her wish for a conservative-dominated government, but her point still dovetails nicely with what happened: A major party donor was confirmed by the same people she funded, over loud objections from the people she'll be in charge of.

DeVos is hellbent on tearing down public education and replacing it with charter schools and private religious schools. She says her larger goal is to "advance God's kingdom," which is an interesting take on a philosophy that critics say hurts disadvantaged kids.

In this case, Rubio didn't even put up a front about resisting Trump's pick like he did when grilling Secretary of State Rex Tillerson before ultimately voting for him. Despite protesters' marches on his district offices and enough phone calls to fill his D.C. inbox, Rubio voted yes — a key vote in a 50-50 deadlock broken by Vice President Mike Pence.

Wonder why?

Update 8:30 pm: Christina Mandreucci, a Rubio spokesperson, released a statement defending his vote and his campaign contributions. Here's the full statement:

"People contribute to Senator Rubio's campaign because they support his agenda. Ms. DeVos is a strong supporter of empowering parents and providing educational opportunity for all, policies Senator Rubio has supported for over a decade. Her nomination was opposed by Democrats who take millions of dollars from the big unions obsessed with denying school choice to low-income children.” 

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink