A glimpse at Betsy DeVos’ extravagant wealth shows the Education Secretary’s lifestyle is so opulent it would make Marie Antoinette envious.

Even though Secretary DeVos disclosed her personal finances in February, the absurd wealth of the world’s wealthiest families hinted at in the newly published Paradise Papers shows that DeVos is very much a part of the “global oligarchy” Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) is warning all of us about.

With a net worth of $1.25 billion that she’s inheriting from her father-in-law’s estate, Betsy DeVos gets to live a life hundreds of millions of Americans only dream about thanks to the Amway fortune that she played no part in building. Newsweek analyzed the Journal’s findings and learned that DeVos has a team of assistants who she pays to do everything from scheduling trips on one of the ten family yachts (including the 163-foot, $40 million monstrosity dubbed the SeaQuest), buying Christmas presents (and replacing them if they get broken), and even keeping doors around the house “well-oiled to avoid squeaking.”

The DeVos family’s “SeaQuest” yacht docked in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Photo by Michael Sears, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

DeVos’ children are equipped with their own assistant who helps them pick out clothes for their yacht trips, and the yachts themselves are staffed with assistants who oversee boat maintenance and the serving of family meals while abiding by “proper table etiquette, service and entertaining protocol.”

When she isn’t dismantling rules put in place by her predecessors at the Department of Education to ensure that student borrowers don’t get swindled by dishonest loan servicers, Secretary DeVos is in the air in one of her family’s four private planes, or one of the family’s two private helicopters.

While DeVos pays for her own private airplane use for government travel, the additional security detail DeVos has received under her tenure as one of the most disliked education secretaries ever is expected to cost taxpayers in excess of $6.5 million by the end of this year. Prior to DeVos, no education secretary has had to have security beyond the Department of Education’s own staff. Betsy DeVos, however, has had U.S. Marshals’ Service protection since February.

Secretary DeVos — who has sided with debt servicer Navient over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in its lawsuit accusing the company of defrauding millions of borrowers — may have married into her billion-dollar fortune, but she’s never experienced poverty. Her brother, Erik Prince, is founder of prominent war profiteering firm Blackwater USA (which has since rebranded as Academi as it was unable to shake its bad reputation after its contractors massacred Iraqi civilians). Their father was the founder of auto parts company Prince Corp.

Washington insiders are expecting DeVos to either be fired or be forced out before long, as the embattled Secretary of Education — who has zero experience in public education as a billionaire heiress — has been largely ineffective at her job.


Matthew P. Robbins is a freelance economics contributor covering wages, budgets, and taxes. He lives in Chicago, Illinois with his husband and two cats. 

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