Erik Prince is the son of Edgar and Elsa Prince and is the brother of Betsy DeVos. He founded the private military contractor Blackwater USA and funds rightwing organizations through his Freiheit Foundation.
Early Life and Political Work
In the early 1990s, Erik Prince interned at the Family Research Council–a religious right organization that his family helped found–and in the White House of President George H.W. Bush (Scahill, Blackwater, Nation Books, 2007, p. 12). Prince also worked at the office of Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California (Ibid., p. 13). During that time, Prince met and worked with future Blackwater lobbyist Paul Behrends who was also working in Rohrabacher’s office (Ibid., p. 148).
Erik Prince attended the Naval Academy to become a Navy pilot, but resigned after three semesters. After resigning from the Naval Academy, Prince attended the conservative Hillsdale College (ibid., p. 12). At Hillsdale, Prince supported Pat Buchanan’s 1992 campaign for president and coordinated his campaign at Hillsdale.
Support for Republican Candidates
Since 1998, he has contributed $200,000 to Republican candidates (source). He reportedly made his first donation–$15,000–to the Republican Party at age 19 in 1989 (source). According to author Jeremy Scahill, Prince has supported politicians including Jesse Helms, Ollie North, Richard Pombo, Dick Chrysler, Rick Santorum, Tom Coburn, Tom DeLay, Jim DeMint, Mike Pence, and Duncan Hunter, among others (Scahill, p. 13).
Prince–who now lives in Virginia–has supported candidates for office in Michigan or representing Michigan, including Congressman Pete Hoekstra, former Senator Spencer Abraham, and his brother-in-law Dick DeVos‘ 2006 gubernatorial campaign.
Connections to the Religious Right
Prince has supported the religious right through his Freiheit Foundation and via his leadership position at his parents’ Edgar & Elsa Prince Foundation. His family has been a significant force in funding the religious right for years in both Michigan and at the national level.
Reverend Robert Sirico, director of the Acton Institute, presided over the funeral of Erik Prince’s first wife (Scahill, p. 19). Sirico was also cited in the Grand Rapids Press’ coverage of Prince’s Blackwater.
Board / Leadership Positions
- Freiheit Foundation, Director
- Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, Director
- Christian Freedom International, board member (source)
- “I interned with the Bush administration for six months… I saw a lot of thing I didn’t agree with–homosexual groups being invited in, the budget agreement, the Clean Air Act, those kind of bills. I think the administration has been indifferent to a lot of conservative concerns.” – Grand Rapids Press, February 23, 1992.
- “Everybody carries guns, just like Jeremiah rebuilding the temple in Israel–a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other.” – Defense Daily, February 23, 2005.
- 10/22/07: Congressional Committee Investigating Possible Blackwater Tax Evasion
- 10/14/07: Erik Prince and his Family Significant Backers of Republican Politicians from Michigan
- 10/12/07: Blackwater Founder Sued over Iraqi Deaths
- 10/11/07: Hoesktra Admits Close Ties with Blackwater’s Erik Prince
- 10/02/07: Holland Native and Blackwater Founder Testifies before Congressional Committee
- 05/20/07: Jeremy Scahill Interview on Blackwater USA
- 05/20/07: Author Speaks in Holland on Blackwater
- 04/13/07: Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army
- 02/27/07: Holland’s Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation Major Local and National Supporter of the Religious Right
- 09/27/06: Blackwater Founder and West Michigan Native Funds Right-wing through Foundation
- 09/30/06: Video Examines Blackwater Founder, War Profiteer Erik Prince
- 08/14/06: Dick DeVos Visits North Carolina Facility of Controversial Mercenary Corporation Blackwater USA
- 05/19/04: Betsy DeVos’ Connection to War Profiteering in Iraq