The big news in state politics this weekend was Dick DeVos's disclosure of his financial interests in lieu of making his tax returns public, as past contenders for the governor's office have traditionally done. (State law requires neither disclosure.) DeVos, the eldest son of Amway/Quixtar/Alticor founder Rich DeVos, said that the list of companies in which he has a stake is sufficient for voters to determine what, if any, conflicts of interest he may have. Because that was the purpose of the disclosure, he attached no values to these financial interests.
Nevertheless, both the Grand Rapids Press and the Detroit Free Press surmised that DeVos must be very wealthy. Indeed, the Free Press declared that Dick Jr. must be worth a half billion bucks. How? Apparently Forbes Magazine's estimate that Dick's dad is worth $3.4 billion had a role to play in this mystery math. What is overlooked is that the Forbes estimate relies heavily upon the P.R. the DeVos family puts out about itself. However, the Grand Rapids Press assures us that all of Dick Jr.'s finances are hunky-dory because the Fixer Charlie McCallum's law firm, Warner Norcross & Judd, says so. (Of course, the Press didn't mention that the Fixer sits on the board of the DeVos family firm which has been reduced to bottling soap for other companies, essentially a big job shop that if Forbes were correct has the incredible net value of almost $7 billion -- remember the Van Andel family accounts for the other half of Amway.)
As we have said here before, when the DeVoses and the Van Andels have to hock everything they own and then panhandle for tax dollars and charitable donations to build and operate anything new they start in town, there is reason to believe that the Scamway fortune is nothing but smoke and mirrors. But the financially illiterate local media hasn't figured that out, so they keep reporting about billions for which little evidence exists. (Again, where is that press release from the Van Andel family about their huge endowment of the Van Andel Institute? Perhaps it got buried under the release about the thirty grand the VAI is paying into CEO Dave Van Andel's retirement fund.)
So, if you ask me, here's why Dick Jr. won't release his tax returns: He is telling the truth when he says it is to keep private the financial interests he has in common with family members. And what is that? You heard it here first: The DeVoses are paupers and Dick Jr.'s wealth comes from his wife Betsy, heiress of the Prince Corporation fortune. Unlike Dick Jr.'s father, her father really did create wealth by building a successful manufacturing company.