Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was recently recorded making racist comments to friend V. Stiviano, has brought Orlando Magic owner Richard DeVos into the conversation.
In a response to the NBA, which has banned him, fined him and pressured him to sell the team, Sterling calls his treatment by the league a sham. He suggests there is a double standard in how he is being treated for his comments versus anti-gay marriage comments made by DeVos years earlier.
Sterling, who does not mention DeVos by name, said a fellow owner “has made highly controversial comments against individuals with HIV/AIDS and generously supports anti-homosexuality causes with impunity.”
DeVos is the co-founder of Amway, the direct selling giant founded in 1949. It is the world’s largest multi-level marketing company with more than 3 million distributors.
It appears Sterling is referring to an interview with The Grand Rapids Press in 2009 in which DeVos said he donated $100,000 in support of a Florida state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage because it was a “sacred issue of respecting marriage.” DeVos is from West Michigan and still has a home there.
“It was not an anti-gay thing. I have been hung in effigy by the gay community for a long time, from when I was on President Reagan’s first Aids commission,” he said in the interview.
He said he supported gay unions, but not gay marriage. “But marriage is a sacred document, OK? A sacred sacrament in the church and in the world. Don’t mess with it.”
On Tuesday, in his response to the NBA, Sterling said DeVos also donated $500,000 to the National Organization for Marriage Education Fund, the group behind Proposal 8 in California; a constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage.
Sterling’s comments are not accurate, however. The 2009 donation came from DeVos’ youngest son, Doug DeVos, through the Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation.
The DeVos family have long been power players in Michigan politics. They have donated money to many causes and candidates. DeVos’ son Dick ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006, losing to incumbent Jennifer Granholm.
In the 2009 interview, DeVos said, “They were hanging me in effigy because I wasn’t sympathetic to all of their requests for special treatment. Because at that time it was always somebody else’s fault. And I said ‘You are responsible for your actions too, you know. Conduct yourself properly,’ which is a pretty solid Christian principle.”
Amway referred questions regarding Sterling’s comments to the Orlando Magic organization, which declined comment at this time.
[Image via huffingtonpost.com]