Richard DeVos owns the Orlando Magic basketball team and Amway - the direct selling pyramid marketing scheme that put him on Forbes’ list as one of the wealthiest men in America.  The project he’s putting his money behind today is the re-election campaign of Democrat Gwendolyn Clarke-Reed, a Florida State Representative for District 92.


But some are speculating that DeVos is not donating to the Clarke-Reed campaign out of any sincere appreciation for her legislative ability. It could have something to do with the fact that her opponent in the election is a gay man. If elected, Justin Flippen, also a Democrat would become the first gay man to serve in the Florida legislature.

An overview of DeVos’ political activism in the past reveals an anti-gay agenda. DeVos notoriously gave $100,000 to a group called “Florida For Marriage” in 2008 which helped them to pass Amendment 2 – the anti-gay “definition of marriage” bill in Florida which prevents LGBT persons from even obtaining a civil union. Virtually all of his hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds have gone to conservative Republicans in the past.

While Devos is certainly the most prominent Republican to endorse and support Gwen Clarke-Reed, he is not the only one. The Flippen campaign website lists a host of names out of out-of-state donors who happen to have donated to Clarke-Reed and big Republicans like George W. Bush, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney.

“It is very disturbing that Gwyn would endorse their values by turning to them to fund her campaign,” says Flippen, “I demand she give the money back or be honest enough with voters, endorsers, and District 92 constituents by becoming a Republican.”

DeVos’ well-funded opposition to healthcare reform is what we now know in the media as the “Tea Party”.  Along with Joseph Coors, he funds and staffs The Heritage Foundation, which is known for its opposition to agendas like healthcare reform and the repeal of California’s Proposition 8.

“The political giving of our co-founders is separate from Amway Global itself,” says Beth Dornin, a media relations staffer with the company. She declined to say, however, whether or not Amway has contributed to any campaigns or legislative efforts in Florida as a company.

“It is possible that he will unleash his conservative right-wing personal fortune in an effort to get rid of Justin,” says a staffer with the Flippen campaign, “There is no question that this is an attack.”

“There just isn’t any other reason, [aside from Flippen being gay] for a group of powerful national republican donors to take such interest in a local Democratic Primary race.”

“Rich DeVos has done a great deal of harm to the LGBT community statewide,” says Nadine Smith of Equality Florida. “He has been a major right wing funder and specifically gave $100,000 to add discrimination to the Florida Constitution by backing the marriage ban. The community really has to be strategic in responding to corporations that support anti-gay causes.”

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