The image at the top of this post was once the Twitter banner of billionaire Betsy DeVos until she got busted for it. What makes the image so controversial is the blatant product placement. Those little white boxes that look like something out of the movie Repo Man are for a “boxed water” product sold by the company Boxed Water is Better LLC whose tagline is “Boxed Water is Better”.
The DeVos connection to Boxed Water is a short straight line. DeVos is the chairwoman of a privately held investment group named The Windquest Group:
Among The Windquest Group’s portfolio of companies is Boxed Water. In fact, The Windquest Group’s address listed on an SEC filing (201 Monroe Ave. NW, Suite 500, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503) is the same as the address listed on Boxed Water’s contact page.
Boxed Water is pitched as an environmentally-preferred alternative to plastic water bottles. Their packaging, according to their greenwashing marketing effort, is 74% paper (“…made from trees, a renewable resource”!) and is recyclable (as are plastic PET water bottles, by the way, which are far more likely to actually BE recycled.)
In February of this year, Boxed Water put out a press release saying they were going to donate “11,520 units” to Flint to help with the catastrophe of the Flint water crisis. Assuming a “unit” is a 24-pack of 500 mL boxes, this is a tiny drop of water in the ocean needed to sustain the beleaguered city (Michael Moore estimates that 20.4 million 16 oz. bottles of water would be needed per day in Flint.) This faux altruism was promoted by the company who said they would donate one case of Boxed Water for every case purchased by customers:
For each case you buy, @boxedwater will provide 1 case directly to Flint relief efforts >>https://t.co/0P5WDQkQ7L. pic.twitter.com/uM3UpvlnsF
— Boxed Water (@boxedwater) March 11, 2016
In other words, they were using the Flint water crisis to promote sales of their boxed water product, the one being hawked in Betsy DeVos’s Twitter banner for awhile. No further donations were ever mentioned after the initial press release in February, even on The Windquest Group’s Boxed Water page.
The DeVos family is a major contributor to the Koch brothers front group The Mackinac Center for Public Policy which is active in both the State Policy Network (SPN) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), both of which are Koch brothers’ projects with the mission of having corporate interests setting public policy and making laws across the country. The Mackinac Center has been a huge proponent of Emergency Management in Michigan and the first Emergency Manager appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder was Louis Schimmel, a former Mackinac Center adjunct scholar.
So, to sum it all up, Betsy DeVos and her family have promoted groups that helped put the anti-democratic policy of Emergency Management in place in our state and, once Snyder-appointed Emergency Managers took steps that led to the poisoning of Flint’s drinking water with the powerful neurotoxin lead, Betsy DeVos used the catastrophe as a way to profit from it by promoting Boxed Water, a company she is heavily invested in.
It may seem like a tangled web but, like her connection to Boxed Water, the line between the Flint water crisis and Betsy DeVos profiting from it is short and straight.
[CC Boxed Water image credit:Scott Schiller | Flicker]