Wilbur Louis Ross, Jr.

Secretary of Commerce

  • 1991 Helps Trump use bankruptcy law on three Atlantic City casinos with the goal of shedding their debt and then buying them back at a deep discount. (LATimes)(NYT)
  • 2004 Founds the International Coal Group (ICG), which uses bankruptcy law to avoid labor unions, health care and pensions. (CBS)
  • 1/2/06 Sago Mine in West Virginia, owned by ICG, explodes, collapses and suffocates 12 miners. (NBC) Ross had refused to shut down the mine after 208 safety citations, more than half of which are “serious and substantial.” (NYPost)(CSMonitor)
  • 2012 Attends a Wall Street fraternity event in purple velvet slippers, where onstage he sings showtunes mocking poor people. (HuffPo)(NYT)
  • Feb 2014 Settles a lawsuit from investors in South Carolina for $81 million after breaching a fiduciary duty of fairness in a merger. (Law360)
  • Aug 2016 Reimburses investors $11.8 million and pays a $2.3 million fine to settle an SEC probe into fee misappropriation. (Reuters)
  • As Vice Chairman of Bank of Cyprus, he was a business partner with ex-KGB agent Viktor F. Vekselberg, currently one of Russia’s most prominent businessmen with ties to the Kremlin. (source) Cyprus is an arm of a global Russian money laundering operation leading directly back to Vladimir Putin. (source)
  • 3/6/17 Is reported that Ross fought to remove Russian influence at the Bank, and largely succeeded. (NYT)

 

As Secretary of the Commerce Department

  • 5/22/17 Lavishing praise on his experience visiting Saudi Arabia with the president, says: “There was not a single hint of a protester anywhere there during the whole time we were there. Not one guy with a bad placard…” (WaPo)
  • 10/16/17 Is reported that Ross left more than $2 billion off of his financial disclosure report submitted to become Secretary of Commerce. (Forbes)
  • 11/5/17 A trove of 13.4 million records dubbed the Paradise Papers reveals:
    • a shipping company that Ross owns a stake in has received over $68 million from a Russian energy company owned by Putin’s son-in-law. (ICIJ)
    • Ross did not disclose his connection to Putin’s immediate family for his Cabinet confirmation. (NBCNews)
  • 11/6/17 A top advisor to Ross in the Commerce Department served on the board of Navigator Holdings, the shipping company whose clients included ties with the Kremlin. (Politico)
  • 11/7/17 Overstates his wealth by $2 billion in order to make it onto the Forbes 400 list. (Forbes)
  • 12/4/17 Disbands an interagency panel that was created to help cities deal with the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels. (Hill)
  • 3/31/18 Purchases a $3.2 million home in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, adding to his family's collection of luxury residences. (Hill)
  • 6/7/18 Strikes a deal with China which allows ZTE, a Beijing-controlled telecom that was previously banned by the U.S. for espionage concerns, to continue doing business in the U.S. in exchange for $1 billion payable to the U.S. Treasury. (NYT)
  • 7/12/18 The U.S. Office of Government Ethics sends Ross a letter excoriating him for eroding the public trust and for filing false and incomplete documents, and requested a DOC review of Ross's calendars for conflict of interest violations. (the letter via commerce.gov)
    • 7/13/18 Is reported that despite Ross claiming no meetings with institutions that affect his personal financial interests, his calendar reveals dozens of meetings with companies tied to his personal fortune while he was Secretary of Commerce. (Forbes)
  • 1/24/19 Says of the 800,000 furloughed federal workers seeking food at food pantries: "Well, I know they are, but I don't really quite understand why. Because, as I mentioned before, the obligations that they would undertake, say borrowing from the bank or credit union, are in effect federally guaranteed. So the 30 days of pay, which some people will be out – there's no real reason why they shouldn't be able to get a loan against it." (Salon)
  • 4/3/19 Declines a second invitation to testify to Congress on Trump's budget request, claiming that an appearance would be a distraction from the budget discussion. (Politico)(Ross's Letter)