- Wilbur Ross is quietly having a horrible week.
- On Monday, he was forced to admit that he’s been lying about how rich he is.
- On Tuesday, he was revealed to have closer financial ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin than anyone thought.
- It’s only Tuesday.
Low key, according to the Urban Dictionary, means:
“to keep something low key: to not announce it; to have a quiet gathering; opposite of a large party or big group of people; not much emphasis, closely aligned with a normal night out doing the usual stuff.”
With that in mind, I’d like to offer that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is low-key having the worst week of anyone in the Trump administration.
Now, I know it’s only Tuesday. And I know that President Donald Trump himself has already had quite a week – he called Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) “Pocahontas” at a celebration of Native American culture; lost a couple votes for his tax bill; and had House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer cancel a meeting with that was meant to prevent a government shutdown.
Still, I argue that Ross is having an even worse week.
On Monday, Ross was forced to release a statement admitting that he’s been lying about his personal wealth for years. This, after financial documents he provided to the government during his confirmation didn’t stack up with information he gave to Forbes. To the government he said he was worth much less. To Forbes he said he was a billionaire.
When Forbes asked him about this foible he said something about trusts, and tried to leave it at that. But Forbes did not. Ultimately, the US Office of Government Ethics demanded an explanation and had to ask: Are you hiding money or do you, in fact, have much less?
And so Ross was forced to admit that he’s been lying to Forbes, and its famous 400 Richest list. “The estimate of my wealth reported in the press is not accurate,” he wrote in a letter posted below. “The accurate information in my nominee public financial disclosure report…”
Cue everyone on Wall Street rolling their eyes. The Forbes 400 is known for its clubby, “if-you-say-it-we-believe-it” nature, and this suggests that Ross has been lying about his wealth for some time. Why he has been so desperate to make the list, we cannot speculate. He is still worth hundreds of millions of dollars, but perhaps he lives with a crippling sense of self doubt. Maybe he lied to attract investors to his private-equity firm. This is a matter for his therapist.
Here’s Ross’ letter:
- Commerce Department
Everything goes back to Russia
Speaking of Ross’ investment firm – WL Ross & Co., which is currently being sued by former employees for fee gouging – it is part of what added to Ross’ troubles on Tuesday.
Reuters finally confirmed that acrobatic rock’n’roll dancer Katerina Tikhonova is in fact Putin’s daughter. She’s married to Russian billionaire Kirill Shamanov.
Thanks to the Paradise Papers, a massive trove of off-shore banking documents, we know that Shamanov and Ross are business partners.
In short: Ross is in business with Putin’s son-in-law. This is all through a shipping company called Navigator in which he owns a stake in. It does business with Shibur, a Russian gas company partly owned by Shamanov. According to The Guardian, Navigator made $68 million off of a deal with Shibur, starting in 2014. That, of course, was when the US put sanctions on Russia for its aggression in Ukraine. Some of Shibur’s owners are sanctioned by the US government, though Shamanov is not.
This solidifies that of all of Trump’s cabinet members, Ross may have the closest confirmed ties to Putin. And that’s saying something in the middle of a Russia investigation that seems to have the entire administration on edge.
For that, I say Ross is low key having the worst week ever. But again, it’s only Tuesday.