Next week, the Senate will vote on the confirmation of Betsy DeVos. The way the numbers currently play out, Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education is in a precarious position: If just two more Republican senators (no Democrat is expected to vote in favor of DeVos) flip their votes, she won’t have the numbers necessary to be appointed. This means Republican senators from states like Ohio, Nevada, North Carolina, Arizona, and Pennsylvania are of particular importance. So much so that one woman, Katherine Fritz, launched a GoFundMe campaign hoping to raise more than $55,800 to “buy” Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey’s vote.
The goal number of $55,800 isn’t arbitrary, Fritz, a Philadelphia-based writer, teacher, and costume designer, told Select All. It amounts to roughly the same amount of dollars Toomey received from DeVos in campaign contributions. “I watched all three hours of the Betsy DeVos hearings, and I was appalled that I could answer some of the basic education policy questions that seemingly stumped her,” Fritz said. “I mean, I’m an adjunct faculty member at a community college, not an expert in education reform, and it was shocking to me that her answers about how to regulate and oversee charter schools didn’t seem to have any concrete proposals, or that she couldn’t distinguish between growth and proficiency.”
Despite phone calls and faxes from herself and “every educator” she knows, Fritz said she was saddened to see Senator Toomey still looking like he was going to vote in favor of DeVos. “It seems like such blatant display of money taking precedent over common sense,” she said. “The thought, ‘If I had $55K, I would buy his vote, too,’ crossed my mind. Ten minutes later, I started a GoFundMe.”
The crowdfunding campaign, which Fritz launched on Wednesday night, has been live for less than 24 hours and has already raised over $7,000 and counting. “I don’t think I can actually give it to Senator Toomey under the condition that he vote ‘No’ for DeVos; technically, that might constitute a bribe, and I’m not interested in breaking a federal law,” Fritz said. “I think the goal is just to raise awareness that the way that Betsy DeVos’s money can reach the senator is perfectly legal, despite it seeming like such a blatant conflict of interest.” Instead, Fritz says the money raised will be split among three charities — a girls’ leadership camp in Philadelphia, the Children’s Literacy Initiative, and the Pennsylvania Arts Education Network — that can put it to good use. “If a dumb internet joke can give some money to any of these causes, what an excellent way to spend a Wednesday evening,” Fritz said.