WASHINGTON — Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Education, appears to have lifted quotes in at least two instances in written answers submitted to the Senate committee tasked with approving his nomination.
After DeVos’ confirmation hearing was limited to one round of questions by Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Democrats submitted hundreds of questions to her.
In response to a question from Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the committee, on bullying of LGBT students, DeVos almost directly — and uncited — quoted Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of Obama’s Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department.
“Every child deserves to attend school in a safe, supportive environment where they can learn, thrive, and grow,” DeVos wrote.
Gupta was credited with nearly the same quotes in a May news release on ensuring the civil rights of transgender students.
“Every child deserves to attend school in a safe, supportive environment that allows them to thrive and grow,” Gupta wrote.
The apparent plagiarism was first reported by The Washington Post.
In another instance, DeVos’ appears to have lifted language from the Department of Education website.
“Opening a complaint for investigation in no way implies that the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has made a determination about the merits of the complaint,” DeVos wrote in response to a question about publishing the list of schools under Title IX investigations.
The Department of Education guidance reads, “Opening a complaint for investigation in no way implies that OCR has made a determination with regard to the merits of the complaint.”
DeVos is one of a handful of Trump cabinet nominees that Senate Democrats believe they have a chance of upending.
Still, DeVos cleared one procedural hurdle to her confirmation Tuesday, being voted through by the Senate committee, 12-11, along party lines, to approve her nomination.
In the hearing earlier this month, DeVos agreed that Trump described sexual assault in a leaked hot mic video from a 2005 entertainment show and turned a discussion of guns in schools turned on grizzly bears.
She also appeared at times unaware of federal law governing education and admitted to a “clerical error” that left her as a vice president on her mother’s foundation for nearly two decades.