Panel delays vote on DeVos nomination as education secretary

Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Education Secretary-nominee Betsy DeVos has pledged to divest her interests in more than 100 companies and has resigned positions with school choice advocacy groups to avoid possible conflicts of interest, according to documents released Friday by the Office of Government Ethics.

Democrats said they still needed more information, and Friday night the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee announced it was delaying a vote on her nomination until Jan. 31, a week later than planned. The committee says the postponement was to give members more time to review DeVos’ financial and ethical disclosures.

At her confirmation hearing earlier this week, DeVos faced tough questions regarding her contributions to the Republican Party, her support of charter schools, her views on LGBT rights, sexual assault and other matters. She was also asked to submit answers to written questions.

In the ethics documents, DeVos, a wealthy Republican donor and school choice activist, pledged to divest her interests in the companies within 90 days of her confirmation.

Committee Democrats said Friday they need more time to review DeVos’ finances and that she has not yet provided the additional information that they had requested.

“Ms. DeVos and her family have incredibly complicated and opaque financial entanglements, and staff is now reviewing all of her and her family’s holdings that have conflicts with her role as secretary of education,” said Eli Zupnick, spokesman for the committee’s Democrats. He added that Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, the top Democrat on the panel, is concerned that the chairman, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, “continues to rush this nominee to a vote before members have a chance to do their due diligence on this nominee and have their questions answered and ethics concerns addressed.”

Democrats and labor unions have protested DeVos’ candidacy, saying she intends to dismantle public education in favor of charter and private schools. They have also voiced concern that her family’s multi-million dollar contributions to Republican candidates and groups constitute a conflict of interest.

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