Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross may have violated criminal conflict of interest law in stock holdings

Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross may have violated a criminal conflict of interest law by holding stock in companies that could have been affected by Trump administration actions in which he was involved, a campaign finance watchdog said in a complaint filed Monday.

The nonprofit Campaign Legal Center's complaint said public records suggest that the billionaire Ross also may have violated three laws "that prohibit certain false statements or omissions" in congressional testimony and financial disclosure filings he made regarding his holdings.

The center asked the Commerce Department's internal ethics watchdog, the Office of the Inspector General, to "conduct a thorough investigation of the matter addressed in this complaint" and to make public its findings.


The center's ethics counsel, Delaney Marsco, scoffed at Ross's prior explanations for some of the situations highlighted by the complaint. Ross had claimed to have been unaware that he owned stock in the companies potentially affected by administration policies or inquiries after he said he was divested of such shares.

"Our analysis shows Ross participated in matters affecting his personal interests," Marsco said. "He has lots of excuses, but they don't add up."

"He can't be both the legendary investor who managed complex private equity funds and hapless official who doesn't even know what he owns," Marsco said.

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