Oh Betsy!

Did someone from Betsy DeVos’ investment firm try to scrub unfavourable information about members of the DeVos family from online bio?

Last month, I blogged that former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo paid an employee from his own PR firm to scrub Wikipedia of references linking him to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The story was picked up by The Daily Beast, and subsequently covered by The Washington Post.

Now I think I’ve found another attempted whitewash.

According to Wikipedia editing records, it appears that someone from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ private investment firm, Windquest Group, attempted to delete unfavourable information about members of the DeVos family.

Betsy DeVos (source)

DeVos was chairman of the firm at the time the edits were made in August 2015 by Wikipedia user “WindquestGroup,” who was subsequently banned indefinitely because the “account’s edits and/or username indicate that it is being used on behalf of a company, group, website or organization for purposes of promotion and/or publicity.”

The user had attempted to delete supposedly “unnecessary” facts that DeVos’ mother, Elsa Prince, once supported “an anti-gay marriage ballot proposal in California,” and that DeVos’ brother, Erik Prince, “founded Blackwater USA, a private security firm” that killed 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007.

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The Blackwater founder is currently facing scrutiny “over reports that he met the head of a Russian investment fund in an apparent effort to set up a back channel for Russian communication with the Trump administration, and that senior Trump officials had authorized the meeting,” according to CNN.

Rather Droll

Wikipedia once accused Trump’s new bible studies teacher Ralph Kim Drollinger of deleting unflattering information about himself using a sockpuppet account

This week it was reported by Breaking Christian News that about a dozen members of Trump’s cabinet, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, are attending weekly bible studies in the White House.

The weekly sessions are taught by Ralph Kim Drollinger, a former NBA player who currently heads the evangelical group Capitol Ministries, which provides ministry to lawmakers and political leaders in Washington.

Ralph Drollinger (source)

Drollinger has in the past drawn criticism for his regressive views on religion, homosexuality, and the role of women in public life.

Via “Capitol Ministries state director leaves, joins new Christian group” by Capitol Weekly staff, Capitol Weekly, November 12, 2009:

In 2004, he wrote in his weekly newsletter that “Women with children at home, who either serve in public office, or are employed on the outside, pursue a path that contradicts God’s revealed design for them. It is a sin.” In protest, 15 then senators, including now-Secretary of State Debra Bowen, held a protest where they carried toasters and wore aprons with a scarlet letter “M” on them, for mother.

In other instances, Drollinger reportedly called homosexuality “an abomination.” But he also criticized several Christian legislators for failing to attend his early-morning prayer sessions and for an alleged lack of piety.

In Feb. 2008, he angered many in the Capitol Community with an editorial in the Capitol Morning Report title “A Chaplains Worse Nightmare,” in which he declared that God was “disgusted” with many California legislators. “In the past several weeks I have visited with a Jewish legislator, a Catholic legislator and a liberal Protestant legislator – all of whom reject the Jesus of Scripture,” he wrote.

This prompted an ongoing back and forth between Drollinger, his supporters, and critics who called him “bigoted” and worse. Some questioned holding religious meetings in the Capitol, as well as the $120,000 annual salary Capitol Ministries reportedly paid to Drollinger.

Apparently, the Capitol Weekly article touched a nerve.

In 2010, Wikipedia administrators accused Drollinger of using multiple sockpuppets to remove links to the article. Evidence showed that a user named “RK Drollinger” had made several edits to Drollinger’s Wikipedia entry removing the links, and on three occasions had even referred to Drollinger in the first person on a Wikipedia discussion page:

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Admins then wrote to RK Drollinger asking them to stop interfering:

You should wait for others to write an article about subjects in which you are personally involved, instead of writing it yourself, as you did at Ralph Drollinger. This applies to articles about you, your achievements, your band, your business, your publications, your website, your relatives, and any other possible conflict of interest.

RK Drollinger was later banned from Wikipedia after an investigation by admins.