The Shape Up! diet supplements Dr. Phil helped promote and peddle — his chrome-domed visage was featured on the packages — were pushed with the claim that the products contained "scientifically researched levels of ingredients that can help you change your behavior to take control of your weight."Of course they didn't return the call. DeVos is running around telling people Michigan needs a businessman running things. News like this might tarnish his image, although Amway and the DeVos family are no strangers to lawsuits and criticism:
The suit against Dr. Phil and the company that actually sold the products, CSA Nutraceuticals of Irving, Texas, alleged fraud and claimed that there was no credible scientific evidence that these products had any effect on a person's behavior.
Here's how scientific the whole thing was: Purchasers of Shape Up! products (How Dr. Phil, don't you think? The commanding tone, the exclamation point!) determined which supplements were right for them by identifying their body types — pear-shaped people took one formula, while those who looked more like apples took another. How could you not believe in a product like that?
News accounts of the $10.5 million settlement didn't mention Amway — the controversial company co-founded by the candidate's father in 1958 — or the umbrella company, Alticor, which Dick created in 2000 when he was running the show there in Ada. Coverage of the class-action lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles, focused mostly on the role played by the bombastic Dr. Phil — who has denied any wrongdoing connected to his promotion of a now-discontinued line of dietary supplements.
What caught some eyes (including those of the tipster who clued us in to all this) were the terms of the settlement: Pears and apples foolish enough to buy Dr. Phil's line could opt to receive Nutrilite vitamins in lieu of cash. Those supplements, it turns out, are manufactured by Amway and its sister company, Quixtar.
The answer to that guttural query can be found not in news accounts (at least not any that we saw) but rather the settlement agreement posted on the Web site shapeupsettlement.com. There, it's revealed that neither Dr. Phil nor CSA were the ones ordered to shell out, but rather Amway parent company Alticor.
According to that document, Alticor will provide $4.5 million in cash and $6 million in Nutrilite products to disgruntled users of Shape Up! The product was taken off the market in 2004. [...]
DeVos had resigned as president of Alticor less than a year before Shape Up! hit stores. One source familiar with the case says that, considering the size of the deal — worth an estimated $20 million or more to the Michigan-based company — and the lead time required to put something like that together, it's almost certain DeVos would have had to have signed off on it before leaving the company. Devos' handlers didn't return a call seeking comment.
But there are also many ardent haters of the company. For a particularly chilling account of the culture of Amway — the culture that spawned our dear Dick — News Hits recommends Merchants of Deception by Eric Scheibeler, a former big-time Amway distributor. You can download the book directly from the Web at merchantsofdeception.com.One thing is certain, we can trust DeVos to act like a hypocrite, which brings me to this article, also from the Metro Times, about the American Family Association’s boycott of Ford Motor Co. for supporting homosexuals.
If you go to that site, after reading a litany of allegations concerning Amway and its associated companies, you will find this question posed by Scheibeler: "Is this the same leadership that the people of the State of Michigan are now to trust?"
So, what’s this have to do with Dick? Turns out his wife Betsy DeVos, the former chair of the Michigan Republican Party, is vice president of the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation. That foundation, launched by Betsy’s late father (who made a fortune in the auto parts business), gave the AFA $5,000 in 2004, according to the most recent records on file with the IRS.Toast? They would have crucified her. DeVos can run around touting his leadership skills all he wants, but the bottom line is that it's his name associated with discrimination, lawsuits, pyramid schemes and boycotts. How can that be good for Michigan?
So, a family-run foundation that has the wife of a gubernatorial candidate in a key position is helping fund a group that is boycotting one of Michigan’s leading employers at a time when that same candidate has made the dire condition of the state’s economy the focus of his campaign.
Sean Kosofsky, director of the political arm of the Detroit-based Triangle Foundation, a gay advocacy group, is outraged by the hypocrisy and dumbfounded that this hasn’t become more of an issue in the campaign.
If this were Daniel Mulhern, husband of Gov. Granholm, contributing to a boycott of a major employer in this state, says Kosofsky, the Republicans — and the media — would be merciless in their hammering.
"If this was Dan Mulhern’s family helping fund a boycott of Ford," says Kosofsky, "Granholm would be toast." [emphasis added]