Watchdog alleges Wilbur Ross conflict of interest violations


A government watchdog group on Thursday called for an investigation of Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross citing possible violations of federal conflict of interest laws.

The complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington alleges Ross participated “in multiple meetings with companies tied to his financial interests,” according to a statement issued by the organization.

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CREW filed the complaint with both the Department of Justice and the Department of Commerce’s Inspector General. The group also seeks a probe into whether Ross “falsely reported on his financial disclosure report that he had fully divested from one company and failed to disclose his interest in another,” according to the statement.

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The complaint follows a story last month in Forbes magazine. Forbes reported that between March and May 2017, Ross was in meetings with CEOs of companies in which he or his wife held a financial interest. Those companies, Forbes reported, included Boeing, Chevron Corp., Greenbrier Cos., and the International Automotive Components.

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The magazine quoted a Commerce Dept. spokesman who said that “Secretary Ross and [chief of staff] Wendy Teramoto have not taken any action with a direct and predictable effect on their financial holdings. This applies to all the meetings.”

On Thursday, CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement that “Secretary Ross continues to demonstrate a troubling disregard for his ethics obligations, and his systematic failures and omissions suggest that he may have knowingly and willfully violated the law.”

Ross, a part-time Palm Beach resident and neighbor of President Donald Trump, was nominated to head the Commerce Dept. in November 2016.

CREW has also sued to get visitor logs for Mar-a-lago.



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