, Donald Trump
's commerce secretary, earned at least $53 million from private companies while receiving a taxpayer salary and supposed to be looking out for the public's interests rather than his own.
During his four years as Commerce Secretary, Ross reported earning between $53 million and $127 million; however, the federal government only requires officials to report broad ranges of outside income.
Ross may have earned "significantly more" because he was not required to specify specific income totals over $1 million, according to the Washington-based watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, which reported on Ross' financial disclosure filings earlier this week.
Concerns and criticism were raised as a result of Ross' numerous and lucrative business
dealings with private companies while he was supposed to be looking out for the American taxpayer.
“Even in a corrupt administration, Ross became notorious for combining personal business with his government role,” CREW said in a statement.
The revelation of Ross' income while serving in the Trump administration
comes on the heels of a bombshell report last month in The Washington Post
that an "obscure" security
office within the Commerce Department
served as an aggressive "counterintelligence unit," collecting information on hundreds of Americans, including department employees.
According to the Washington Post, the Investigations and Threat Management Service searched workers' offices at night, searched their emails for foreign influence, and combed through citizens' social media
posts for criticism of the Commerce Department's census.
The unit opened a case on a Florida
retiree who simply tweeted that the census would be twisted to “benefit the Trump Party,” according to records. According to the Post, the Biden administration
has suspended ITMS investigations.
Ross is already involved in a new venture, a special purpose acquisition company that has reportedly attracted $300 million in investment, and which he established in the Cayman Islands in January while still in public office, according to Forbes.
Lawmakers, CREW, and the Campaign Legal Center raised concerns about Ross' business entanglements even as he negotiated with officials and other national leaders in his government capacity about issues that could affect his profits.
In 2017, CREW demanded an investigation into whether he had fully divested from the Bank of Cyprus and recused himself from trade negotiations with China
that could have harmed his financial interests in Navigator Holdings and Diamond
CREW also filed a complaint against Ross the following year for possible insider trading and other violations when he allegedly shorted Navigator stock after learning that a negative story about his ties to the company was going to be published in The New York Times
. In addition, the watchdog organization filed a complaint against Ross seeking an investigation into whether he violated criminal statutes by allegedly shorting Navigator stock.
Ross was cleared of insider trading allegations in a report issued late last year by the Commerce Department's Inspector General's Office, but he was found to have violated the federal standard of failing to avoid the appearance of ethical and legal violations.