By Ana Swanson
Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., a former banker and investor who earned billions during decades of buying and selling industries and who President Trump has touted to lead his trade negotiations, was confirmed as secretary of commerce by the Senate in a 72-to-27 vote on Monday night.
Dubbed the “king of bankruptcy” for his leveraged buyouts of battered companies in the steel, coal, textile and banking industries, Ross has generated a fortune of $2.5 billion, ranking him among the wealthiest 250 people in America, according to Forbes.
Ross worked for decades at the New York investment bank of Rothschild, during which time he represented Trump’s failing Taj Mahal casino and helped forge a deal that allowed Trump to retain ownership.
In the early 2000s, Ross purchased some of America’s largest steel mills, including Pennsylvania’s Bethlehem Steel and Cleveland’s LTV Corp. He later sold his steel conglomerate to India’s Mittal Steel, helping to form what is now the world’s largest steel company.
Ross’s confirmation was largely uncontroversial, though Sen. Cory Booker (D.-N.J.) and other Democrats asked the billionaire in recent days to clarify his business ties to Russian shareholders while serving on the board of directors of a Cypriot bank.
Some critics have condemn Ross for taking over troubled companies and shipping jobs overseas, while his supporters claim he saved the companies from going under and preserved American jobs in the process. Trump has praised Ross as a savvy businessman and one of the most valuable advisers in his administration.
Ross agreed to divest of nearly all of his personal holdings and resigned from dozens of boards and organizations to take the Commerce Department post.
Trump has said that Ross …read more