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Amway Forever: The Amazing Story of a Global Business Phenomenon by Kathryn A. Jones

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Getting Involved

Jay’s foray into politics began at the local level when he served on the Ada Planning Commission in the 1960s. The commission had the power to annex property, expand the tax base, and bring jobs to the area. “As the fastest growing business in the state, Rich and I wanted to make sure that Amway was represented,” Jay said.1 He jumped from there to state politics, working with the Michigan State Chamber of Commerce—Jay was elected chairman of that organization in 1970—and then on the Michigan State Compensation Committee, which set salaries for legislators and other elected officials. He angered some of them by “refusing to pay them what they thought they were worth.”2 From there, Jay moved into active roles in the state Republican Party. He was named chairman of the Republican State Finance Committee and bankrolled some Republican candidates, although later he preferred to make donations through the party itself rather than to individuals or committees.

By 1972, business power brokers in Washington, D.C., had taken notice. Jay nabbed a seat on the national board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest nonprofit lobbying group, and in 1979 became its chairman. That was the same year that the Federal Trade Commission had ruled Amway to be a legal multilevel marketer and not a pyramid scheme. Jay traveled the country as a spokesman for free enterprise and free trade, and against regulation that discouraged business. It was a natural step from there to ...

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