Center for American Progress Action

Resist Wilbur Ross’s Nomination for Secretary of Commerce

Resist Wilbur Ross’s Nomination for Secretary of Commerce

Wilbur Ross’ nomination for secretary of commerce shows Trump is turning his back on workers.

 (AP/Carolyn Kaster)
(AP/Carolyn Kaster)


During his campaign Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp” and rid Washington of of political insiders who’ve rigged the system. Yet one by one, as president-elect Trump nominates the leaders of his new administration, the swamp seems to be overflowing. So we created the Swamp-O-Meter for each nominee that takes into account the number of years as a politician or working in Washington, net worth, connections to big money, personal conflicts of interest, and any history of racist and homophobic behavior.

Wilbur Ross has earned a pretty swampy 4 out of 5 on the swamp-o-meter since he is a Wall Street big wig who earned his billions of the backs of workers. As the leader of a Wall Street secret society called Kappa Beta Phi, Ross has been overheard making off-color jokes about people of color, LGBT people, and the poor. And his extensive portfolio of investments creates large conflicts of interests with his new appointed office.

8 reasons Wilbur Ross’ nomination for secretary of commerce shows Trump is turning his back on workers

Trump promised that “Under a Trump presidency, the American worker will finally have a president who will protect them and fight for them.” But his commerce secretary pick shows, yet again, that’s a lie.

  1. Wilbur Ross grew his $2.9 billionfortune by buying troubled companies, slashing workers’ wages, eliminating retired miners’ benefits, and laying people off.

Probably not surprising, but a lot of these companies were in industries such as steel, auto parts, and coal.

  1. While Trump vowed that he would bring manufacturing jobs back, his nominee for commerce secretary has a historyof laying off American workers while opening factories in Mexico and China.

Trump made his opposition to outsourcing a centerpiece of his campaign (though his own businesses do it a lot), but his commerce secretary pick shows that’s all smoke and mirrors. Ross bought a North Carolina-based textile company in 2004 and laid off workers and outsourced production to China and Mexico. By 2012, the company had 800 fewer workers in North Carolina than when Ross bought the company.

  1. 12 miners lost their livesat Ross’ Sago coal mine in West Virginia—after his company repeatedly ignored federal safety citations.

As former mine safety official Tony Oppegard put it:

It’s really the height of hypocrisy when people are counting on you to turn around the economy for them and to bring back coal jobs that you’re naming someone who’s never done anything to help working-class people. Trump portraying himself as the savior of the working class was just a con job.

  1. Though Trump promised to support American steel, he picked Ross, the “king of bankruptcy,” who made millions on bankrupt steel plants and sold American steel companies to foreign competitors.

Most notably, Ross helped form the International Steel Group by bundling five bankrupt steel companies, axing retirement benefits for 190,000 former and current workers, and then selling them to Mittal Steel Company in the Netherlands for more than $4 billion in stock and cash.

  1. Ross’ massive investment portfolio poses a tremendous conflict of interest for his nomination—which hasn’t seemed to be a problem for Trump yet.

Ross could use the Commerce Department’s extensive powers over trade enforcement to benefit his own companies. Congress must insist that Ross divest himself from his portfolio—like all Americans should insist that Trump actually put his businesses in a blind trust.

  1. Ross said it’s “baloney” to be able to forecast climate change.

He appeared unable to distinguish between weather and climate. This is concerning since, if confirmed by the Senate, he will oversee the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, where top scientists use satellite and other data to monitor and understand climate change, weather, coastal restoration, and fisheries. His climate denial is not surprising though since he made billions buying and sell coal mines.

  1. Ross’ net worth of $2.9 billionis 35,714 times larger than the median family net worth in 2013.

Don’t count on Ross to be a populist.

  1. Wilbur Ross is yet another Wall Street tycoon on Trump’s team.

Ross is the chairman of the private equity firm WL Ross & Co. And in 2012 (and maybe longer, who knows), he was the leader or Grand Swipe of Kappa Beta Phi, a secret society of Wall Street millionaires and billionaires. The group apparently makes new members dress in drag, features people such as Ross telling off-color jokes, and has the privacy mantra “What happens at the St. Regis stays at the St. Regis.” Apparently, a lot happens at the St. Regis.

How you can #ResistRoss

The secretary of commerce must be confirmed by a majority of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and a majority vote on the floor of the Senate.
Call, write, or tweet:

  • John Thune (R-SD) at 202.224.2321
  • Roger Wicker (R-MS) at 202.224.6253
  • Roy Blunt (R-MO) at 202.224.5721
  • Ted Cruz (R-TX) at 202.224.5922
  • Deb Fischer (R-NE) at 202.224.6551
  • Jerry Moran (R-KS) at 202.224.6521
  • Dan Sullivan (R-AK) at 202.224.3004
  • Dean Heller (R-NV) at 202.224.6244
  • James M. Inhofe (R-OK) at 202.224.4721
  • Mike Lee (R-UT) at 202.224.5444
  • Ron Johnson (R-WI) at 202.224.5323
  • Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) at 202.224.6472
  • Cory Gardner (R-CO) at 202.224.5941
  • Todd Young (R-SC) at 202.224.5623

and demand that they examine and question Ross’ record before deciding how they will vote.

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