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Tell the Trump administration: Ethically compromised Wilbur Ross has to go

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Petition to the Trump administration:

"Wilbur Ross reportedly misled the American people about his business conflicts of interest, maintains financial ties to Putin-linked Russian oligarchs and has ducked ethics scrutiny. Remove him from office immediately."

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    Tell the Trump administration: Ethically compromised Wilbur Ross has to go

    Trump Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross reportedly misled the American people about his investments and appears to have used his position to line his own pockets.1 It’s time for him to go.

    Wilbur Ross’s hidden investments were one of the biggest revelations in the Paradise Papers – documents revealing how the Wall Street super-wealthy and international corporations avoid taxes.2 Not only does Ross have secret financial ties to Russian oligarchs with family ties to Vladimir Putin, the papers show that Ross was negotiating natural gas export deals while he held huge investments in the world’s largest fleet of liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers.3

    Worse, the ethics official who endorsed Ross’s activity received a promotion from Ross shortly after clearing him.4

    This is another textbook case of the Trump administration’s phony populism serving as cover for the wealthiest few to enrich themselves at public expense. We need a concerted public push to expose Ross and make it clear that recusals cannot erase this conflict of interest and seeming corruption. Wilbur Ross has to go.

    Tell the Trump administration: Ethically compromised Wilbur Ross has to go.

    The Paradise Papers reveal that Trump Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has financial ties to Russian oligarchs and did not reveal that information before his confirmation.5 But the conflict of interest goes beyond Russia.

    Wilbur Ross “personally negotiated” a trade deal involving the shipping of LNG to China. All the while, he held far greater investments in Navigator – the company with the largest fleet of LNG carriers – than he had previously revealed. When pressed, Ross points at a stamp of approval from Commerce Department ethics adviser David Maggi. But a few months after approving Ross’s suspect deals, Ross rewarded Maggi by promoting him to a permanent post.6

    As Jeff Hauser of the Revolving Door Project put it: “The commerce secretary is behaving in a way that’s a prima facie conflict of interest. The designated ethics official should rein him in. He hasn’t, and he owes his job to Ross.”7

    Once again, the oligarchs of team Trump are using their ill-gotten power to profit while making grand populist promises. It is up to us to expose this phony populism and demand that Ross step down.

    Tell the Trump administration: Ethically compromised Wilbur Ross has to go.

    Since the release of the Paradise Papers, Ross has agreed to divest of the original holding – which only goes to show how wrong-headed Maggi’s initial judgment actually was. We still do not know the extent of Ross’s financial holdings, and we cannot trust either his false promises to recuse himself or the ethics official who owes his job to Ross.8 As Sen. Richard Blumenthal said recently:

    “In concealing his interest in these shipping companies - and his ongoing financial relationship with Russian oligarchs - Secretary Ross misled me, the Senate Commerce Committee, and the American people. Secretary Ross’ financial disclosures are like a Russian nesting doll, with blatant conflicts of interest carefully hidden within seemingly innocuous holding companies.”9

    Sen. Blumenthal has called for an Office of the Inspector General investigation, but it is hard to see how any finding would eliminate the fundamental and blatant conflict of interest. We need to keep Ross’s seeming corruption in the spotlight and keep the pressure on until he is no longer able to exploit the American people.

    Tell the Trump Administration: Ethically compromised Wilbur Ross has to go.

    Thank you for speaking out.

    References:

    1. David Dayen, “The Wilbur Ross Scandal Isn’t About Russia, It’s About Corruption,” The Intercept, Nov. 8, 2017.
    2. Richard Engel and Aggelos Petropoulos, “Paradise Papers: Leaks Show Wilbur Ross Hid Ties to Putin Cronies,” NBC News, Nov. 5, 2017.
    3. Dayen, “The Wilbur Ross Scandal Isn’t About Russia, It’s About Corruption.”
    4. Ibid.
    5. Engel and Petropoulos, “Paradise Papers: Leaks Show Wilbur Ross Hid Ties to Putin Cronies.”
    6. Dayen, “The Wilbur Ross Scandal Isn’t About Russia, It’s About Corruption.
    7. Ibid.
    8. Ibid.
    9. Louis Nelson, “Wilbur Ross: Accusations that I failed to disclose Russia-linked investments are 'evil,’” POLITICO, Nov. 6, 2017.