New Report Uncovers (Even More) Ethical Issues For Wilbur Ross

On May 18, 2017, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross met with Bill Furman, the CEO of railcar manufacturer Greenbrier Companies, according to Ross’ calendar. At the time, Ross had a financial stake in Greenbrier and, therefore, a potential conflict of interest. When asked about the meeting, a spokesperson for Ross brushed aside any concerns. “There was a purely social lunch with Mr. Furman at which Secretary Ross paid the bill,” he said in a statement to Forbeslast month. “No items specific to Greenbrier have been before the secretary during his tenure at [the Department of] Commerce.” When pressed, the spokesman added: “Secretary Ross and [his chief of staff] Wendy Teramoto have not taken any action with a direct and predictable effect on their financial holdings.”

But that is not true, according to a 115-page report from the Campaign Legal Center, a government watchdog organization. Instead, the report alleges, Ross took several actions with direct and predictable effects on his holdings, and he may have broken the law by doing so.


The Campaign Legal Center asked the inspector general of the commerce department to investigate the issues. “Ross’ conflicts of interest raise questions as to whether he can be trusted to put the public’s interest above his own interests,” one of the authors of the report, Delaney Marsco, said in a statement. “Our detailed complaint draws a roadmap to help the inspector general determine whether he broke the law.”

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