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Filing shows Trump's education secretary pick contributed to Toomey's re-election campaign

PITTSBURGH — Protests on social media and in person at Sen. Pat Toomey’s office in Station Square have increased in recent days as final confirmation is sought for President Donald Trump’s education secretary nominee.

Thousands of people across the country have been writing, emailing and calling their senators to voice their opposition to Betsy DeVos, a billionaire from Michigan who has no experience in public education.

RELATED: DeVos likely to push school choice as education secretary

DeVos’ confirmation hearing was widely panned because she struggled to answer policy questions. Sen. Bernie Sanders also asked DeVos directly about her contributions to the Republican Party and how they may have influenced Trump’s decision to choose her.

Sanders: “If your family didn't make hundreds of millions in contributions to the Republican Party, would you be sitting here today?
 
DeVos: “It’s a possibility.”

To some, Sen. Toomey has been seen as the last chance at preventing her nomination. Two Republicans have said they will not vote for her. Three are needed to block her outright.

RELATED: DeVos nomination on thin ice with 2 GOP senators opposed

When Channel 11 News asked Toomey his thoughts about DeVos, he replied, “I think she'll make a great education secretary.”

Channel 11’s Washington newsroom uncovered that DeVos contributed to Toomey’s re-election campaign. The official filing shows that she donated $5,400 of her own money – the maximum allowed.

Katherine Fritz, a teacher in Philadelphia, took note of the contribution and started a GoFundMe with the goal to “buy” Toomey’s vote against DeVos.

"I would encourage the senator to reach out and talk to teachers in both the charter school system and the public school system," Fritz told Channel 11 News via Skype. "I would especially encourage the senator to be aware that his constituents are feeling very frustrated."

As of Thursday, Fritz GoFundMe had raised more than $22,000. She said all the money will be donated to charity.

DeVos’ Senate confirmation hearing is set for Tuesday.