Friends in High Places
With Amway’s money and its millions of distributors—a formidable bloc of conservative-leaning voters—came the power to win friends and influence people and politics in Michigan; Washington, D.C.; and beyond. Rich and Jay’s Dutch Calvinist upbringing instilled in them a strong belief that Christian principles should be applied to politics and that government had a moral duty to stay out of certain areas, such as entrepreneurialism.
To Amway and its founders, creating jobs was the realm of the private sector, not the government. The company’s tenets of free enterprise, limited government, and strong Christian ideals naturally dovetailed with those of conservative Republicans. Thus, in the 1970s, Amway began making large contributions to conservative groups, the Republican Party, and some individual political campaigns. Since then, few companies have forged closer ties to the Republican Party and right-wing causes than Amway. Its friends included former Republican presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole; former Attorney General John Ashcroft; former House Majority Whip Tom DeLay—who was a former Amway distributor—and conservative Christian leader Jerry Falwell.