A political action committee associated with the right-wing DeVos family is donating almost exclusively to one senator: Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.
The PAC associated with Alticor -- the parent entity to the multilevel marketing company Amway -- gave $2,500 to Sinema in late June, and so did three other similar companies, and Mary Kay executive chair Richard Raymond Rogers gave the same amount in April and Herbalife contributed that sum in July, and she's the only lawmaker most of them have supported, reported Politico.
"Sinema does have a personal connection to the industry: Her own mother was a direct seller," the website reported. "But the bigger incentive for multi-level marketers to give to Sinema appears to be her position on labor organizing. The companies face an existential threat from the pro-union Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which would make it more difficult to classify workers as independent contractors. According to one industry source, the bill has become the driving issue since Democrats took control of the White House and both chambers of Congress. And Sinema is one of — if not the only — Democratic allies in the Senate."
Alticor is owned by the DeVos family, one of the conservative movement's biggest contributors, and the Utah-based personal care and beauty company USANA Health Sciences, which gave $2,500 to Sinema in June, has only contributed to home state lawmakers Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT), along with a Republican PAC.
"Contributions to candidates from DSA's political action committee are based on a variety of factors," said a spokesperson for the Direct Selling Association.
The companies encourage customers to sell their products on commission, but the Federal Trade Commission has found most make little or no money, and those companies -- along with so-called "gig worker" companies like Uber and Lyft -- are adamantly opposed to the PRO Act, and Sinema is one of only three Democratic senators who have not yet co-sponsored the bill.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) signaled his support Monday at a rally, and Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) has said he supports the contours of the bill but wants to see some changes, including the provision on independent contractors.
"An industry that is literally built on contract employees — which is what the MLM is — would never want to be considered to be, to entertain the notion of having those independent representatives as employees," said said William Keep, a professor at the College of New Jersey who studies multi-level marketing and pyramid schemes. "I think that [Sinema has] demonstrated a flexibility that they think they can capitalize on."