Betsy DeVos, Steve Mnuchin & Wilbur Ross Grew Millions Richer In 2017
Leading members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet, Betsy DeVos, Steve Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross took in tens of millions of dollars in profit last year, according to the administration’s disclosure filings.
The disclosures, which were originally obtained by Politico, show that DeVos and her husband took in nearly $60 million last year. Mnuchin and Ross took in similar figures, with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin reporting an income of more than $41 million, and Commerce Secretary Ross bringing in $47 million in 2017.
A large percentage of the Secretaries’ income came from the sale of assets the Office of Government Ethics deemed could pose as conflicts of interest for the leading government officials.
DeVos agreed to divest 102 assets when she ascended to the role of Education Secretary in 2017. Those sales were recorded in her May 14 disclosure statement, which was certified by the Education Department in September after being amended a dozen times.
Also appearing on DeVos’s statement were three new investments, including a buy-in to a Michigan distillery estimated to be worth between $500,000 to $1 million.
The Education Secretary’s net worth was reported to reach over $5.1 billion, according to Forbes.
Ross faced significant scrutiny last year for falsely claiming that he had sold off assets deemed to be conflicts of interest by the OGE. Over the summer, he pledged that he would sell off his equity holdings and purchase Treasury bonds.
The Commerce Secretary’s disclosure shows that he sold off stock and options in Invesco, his former employer, to the tune of $11.1 million. Added to this, Ross took home nearly $1 million in a departing bonus from the company.
Members of the Campaign Legal Center have asked for an investigation to be launched by the Commerce Department to examine whether Ross’s failure to divest his holdings last year broke any laws.
“Ross’s financial disclosure is probably the most complicated one that has ever existed,” ethics lawyer at the Campaign Legal Center, Delaney Marsco, told Politico. “For you or me, these financial disclosure documents would give a complete picture of our finances. But for people who are super wealthy, this doesn’t tell us everything we would want to know.”
Time reported that Ross’s net worth has fluctuated between $2.9 billion and $700 million over the last few years.
Mnuchin sold off his holdings in Seritage Growth Properties, a company that leases stores to companies like Sears, according to his disclosure.
Sears is currently in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings, and critically, the company’s pensions are at risk of default.
As a board member of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, Mnuchin stood at the center of a tangled web of conflicting interests prior to the divestment, so much so that Democrats in the Senate Finance Committee asked him to recuse himself from matters involving the two companies.
“The secretary submitted his annual financial disclosure on time, and Treasury is working with OGE to have it promptly certified,” a spokeswoman for the Treasury Department said.
Much of the trio’s wealth is obscured. buried behind limited partnerships and trusts, the value of some of their individual assets is hard to pin down.