Like Countable?

Install the App
TRY NOW

Billionaire Investor Wilbur Ross Tabbed for Commerce Secretary

by Countable | 12.30.16

President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Wilbur Ross Jr., an investor with an estimated $3 billion net worth, to be his Secretary of Commerce. Trump called Ross "a champion of American manufacturing [who] knows how to help companies succeed. Most importantly, he is one of the greatest negotiators I have ever met."

Who is Wilbur Ross?

Ross, 79, was born in Weehawken, N.J. His father was a lawyer (later a judge) and his mother, Agnes, a schoolteacher. He received a bachelor’s degree from Yale (his dad’s alma mater) and an MBA from Harvard. Then, just 24, he got his start in banking as head of the bankruptcy-restructuring arm of Rothschild Inc.’s New York office. It was as a senior executive there that he first made Trump’s acquaintance, helping the then-casino mogul to restructure his teetering empire in the late ’80s.

Before leaving Rothschild, Ross raised $450 million and began speculating in distressed businesses, primarily in the steel, coal, textile and telecom industries. In 2000, he founded WL Ross Co. LLC, since acquired by AMVESCAP PLC. He is still listed as the New York-based private-equity firm’s chairman and chief strategy officer.

En route to becoming a wildly successful "corporate turnaround specialist," Ross devised a game plan that earned him not only a large portion of his fortune but also the nickname “the king of bankruptcy.”

While his strategy of purchasing failing firms at a substantial discount and cutting costs, including some workers’ benefits, has certainly proved lucrative, it has also met with its share of controversy and, in one particularly unfortunate case, tragedy. Among his varied ventures was the Sago Mine, where 12 West Virginia coal miners lost their lives in an explosion about 24 hours after New Year’s Day 2006. The U.S. Department of Labor had cited the mine 208 times in 2005 for safety violations.

Twice divorced, he has two daughters by his first wife, Judith Nodine. His second wife, Betsy McCaughey, is a former lieutenant governor of New York. He is currently married to Hillary Geary, a magazine editor with whom he shares homes in New York and Florida. An art aficionado, he is known to have an extensive collection valued at $150 million.

What’s the outlook for his confirmation?

Despite his reputation as a "vulture capitalist" and the public relations hit that he and his company took over the Sago Mine disaster, Ross is considered by experts to the best possible pick “the Democrats could hope for.” In fact, he has been a registered Democrat for most of his life, even serving on the board of the federal U.S.-Russia Investment Fund during President Bill Clinton’s administration.

Interestingly, Ross was an early supporter of Trump’s presidential bid yet only officially joined the Republican Party last month. And some members of organized labor view his restructuring style as injecting life into companies withering on the vine, thus saving otherwise doomed jobs.

A longtime critic of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), he surprisingly voiced his approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) last year, in direct opposition to Trump, and criticized the controversial deal’s environmental, health and safety standards not strong enough, which could play well with Democratic lawmakers. Considered not nearly as hawkish as some of Trump’s other Cabinet choices, Ross is expected to have little trouble gaining confirmation.

You can tell your senators how to vote on Ross’s confirmation by using the "Take Action" button below.

What does the Department of Commerce do?

In a nutshell, it is tasked with setting favorable conditions for economic growth. The agency aims to promote job creation and sustainable development by negotiating optimal international trade terms and ensuring businesses’ access to high technology.

With a budget of $14.6 billion in fiscal year 2015, the Dept. of Commerce is composed of 12 bureaus and has more than 47,000 employees scattered throughout every state, five U.S. territories and more than 86 countries. It also administers the U.S. Census and counts the International Trade Association, the Patent and Trademark Office and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (home to the National Weather Service) among its higher-profile agencies.

— Erin Wright

(Photo Credit: Video Screenshot)

Countable

Written by Countable

Leave a comment
(126)
  • Albert
    12/30/2016
    ···

    The billionaires that Trump is selecting are only loyal to their shareholders and themselves, not you. You on the other hand are simply a labor cost on an excel spreadsheet. You are a vote that Trump only needs once or twice, nothing more.

    Like (31)
    Follow
    Share
  • Tassos
    12/30/2016
    ···

    Another atrocious appointment by Donald Trump that shows he lied as much as is possible to the American public about being an underdog/outsider. At a time when Americans have been buried under the boot of large multinational interests, the president elect is now appointing all of those very interests to run the country.

    Like (14)
    Follow
    Share
  • Cathleen
    12/31/2016
    ···

    I work for this man. He is careless, does not care about the environment, does shifty deals with negative reputable companies, and age... way too old. Give me a break! We are headed towards a US meltdown, which could be good.

    Like (14)
    Follow
    Share
  • SleazyFitz
    01/01/2017
    ···

    This is a textbook demonstration of how Trump not only had no plans to "drain the swamp," but instead is going to continue to perpetuate the cycle of croney capitalism that has already disenfranchised the American people.

    Like (12)
    Follow
    Share
  • SeanAntidote
    12/30/2016
    ···

    If I judge this guy's book by its cover it's old, dusty and outdated. The ideas and expertise are irrelevant because the paradigm is shifting out of necessity. Wait, I'm sorry what I meant to say was, YESSSS ANOTHER OLD MAN BILLIONAIRE AWESOME!!!

    Like (9)
    Follow
    Share
  • J
    12/30/2016
    ···

    Be very careful. We have the makings of an oligarchy. Keep your eyes wide open and turn off the talking heads.

    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
  • Adriel
    12/31/2016
    ···

    Ross will not have the interests of middle or lower classes in mind - he is not an appropriate choice.

    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
  • Aven
    12/31/2016
    ···

    I see some very bad times coming for the working class people (most of us) in the next four years. Millionaires don't care about their employees welfare of life as long as they show up for work! It is going to be worse with all of these guys in the Whitehouse ! Kiss what little bit of the middle working class was left in America good bye! Now its going to be working pore and filthy rich.

    Like (7)
    Follow
    Share
  • Robin
    12/31/2016
    ···

    I feel this man is not worthy of the post. It's Trumps way of paying him back for restructuring of his bankruptcies. The man is old fashion with old man views in the 21st Century.

    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
  • David
    12/30/2016
    ···

    What does a 79 year-old billionaire know about commerce? Just about everything!

    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
  • Elaine
    01/09/2017
    ···

    All these billionaires get to divest their holdings without paying capital gains on their profits. This is Trumps payback to them and saves them from paying millions of dollars in taxes. Works for him too.

    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
  • Dorothy
    02/28/2017
    ···

    This Trump appointee is vice chairman of the Bank of Cyprus which is run by Russian oligarchs and he has numerous conflicts of interest in the steel industry. He is essentially owned and operated by the Russians. We need an independent investigative committee and prosecutor to again investigate why Trump is only to happy to turn over our governmental agencies to the Russians!

    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
  • Bryanna
    01/07/2017
    ···

    What happened to "draining the swamp" and "making America great again"? Or was the intention only to make it great again for the rich? As if it wasn't already.

    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
  • Michele
    02/28/2017
    ···

    Another billionaire with ties to banks doing business with Russian? It appears the Russia connections continue. Very sad and scary times in my country. Shame on you all.

    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
  • Scott
    01/03/2017
    ···

    Progressives need to pick and choose our battle. We can live with this man. Bigger fish to fry

    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
  • FredM
    12/31/2016
    ···

    Trump has long claimed he is a great negotiator, but his true tactics are just subterfuge and intimidation. He is a narcissist who has used frivolous lawsuits, bankruptcy and outright fraud to cheat his vendors and subcontractors. He has never shown any regard for anyone or anything but his own self interest. He is now surrounding himself with like-minded people. The next four years will be very dangerous times! And for his supporters who will find out that he lied about almost everything during the campaign ... this is just another example of his "negotiating" style!

    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
  • James
    12/31/2016
    ···

    This guy is bad for the country and the economy. If the goal is to crash the economy this guy will do just that. Do not approve him

    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
  • Verena
    01/09/2017
    ···

    A man responsible for the death of 12 people, that made his money on bother people's failures. How exactly will he help small business?

    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
  • Bethany
    01/26/2017
    ···

    I ask that you oppose Wilbur Ross as Commerce Secretary. His business profile has proven time and again that he does not have citizen's health or safety at heart when making financial decisions. Thank you for your time.

    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
  • Julie
    01/02/2017
    ···

    Do not vote to confirm this man. He is directly from the swamps.

    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share