Only 100 U.S. senators — not the general public — will vote to approve President Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees.
But that’s not stopping several conservative organizations from launching ad blitzes promoting Trump’s Cabinet picks — most notably Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, who critics have panned as a wealthy partisan hack with no practical experience in public education.
Two conservative nonprofit groups in particular, the Club for Growth and America Next, are pushing back hard, producing broadcast television ads supporting confirmation of DeVos, a GOP megadonor and staunch advocate for charter schools and school vouchers.
Both Club for Growth and America Next are nonprofit groups organized under Section 501(c)(4) of the federal tax code. That means their primary mission has to be social welfare, a category that includes issue advocacy ads that don’t specifically seek to influence a political election.
Such groups aren’t required to reveal their donors, which means the public has no way of knowing who is paying for the pro-DeVos ads.
The lion’s share of those TV ads came from America Next, which aired nearly 300 spots nationally through Feb. 5, according to data provided to the Center for Public Integrity by Kantar Media/CMAG, which tracks television advertising. Former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal created America Next in 2013.