Trump picks billionaire Ross as commerce chief, Cubs’ Ricketts as deputy

NEW YORK (UPI) — Some observers say President-elect Donald Trump hit a home run Wednesday by picking fellow billionaire Wilbur Ross, Jr., as commerce secretary and Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts as his deputy.

Trump announced both appointments Wednesday, which will infuse decades of business experience to the department — even though neither has any experience in government.

Ross, who turned 79 this week, appeared with Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s treasury pick on CNBC to confirm his selection.

“Wilbur knows that cutting taxes for working families, reducing burdensome government regulations and unleashing America’s energy resources will strengthen our economy at a time when our country needs to see significant growth,” Trump said in a statement.

Like Mnuchin, Ross is a longtime Democratic donor and an early supporter of Trump during his presidential campaign.

Other candidates for commerce chief included New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Fed chairman Herman Cain, Georgia Sen. David Perdue, and pro wrestling magnate Linda McMahon.

Ricketts, 47, the son of Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, brings a vast entrepreneurial cachet to his post of deputy commerce secretary.

“I am honored that President-elect Donald J. Trump has asked me to serve our country at this critical juncture in our history,” Ricketts said Wednesday. “Advancing practical policies that promote economic opportunity is critical to making America great again. I’m eager to begin this important work and serving with Wilbur Ross.”

Trump called him “an immensely successful businessman with unparalleled knowledge of the finance industry.”

Ricketts’ Cubs won the World Series last month, the team’s first since 1908.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Trump’s economic team will “bring decades of experience across a wide spectrum of industries to their respective roles.”


Trump picks billionaire Ross as commerce chief, Cubs' Ricketts as deputy
President-elect Donald Trump greets Wilbur Ross at the Trump International Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Nov. 20. Wednesday, Trump announced Ross as his pick for commerce secretary. Pool Photo by Peter Foley/UPI

“I have the utmost confidence that they will serve President-elect Trump and the American people well,” he added.

Forbes determined Ross was worth $2.9 billion, making him the country’s 232nd richest person. He owns a home near Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach.

Ross founded the private equity firm WL Ross and Co. in 2000. He sold the company to Invesco but serves as chairman and chief strategy officer. Before starting his own firm, Ross for 25 years was in charge of Rothschild’s bankruptcy practice.

Ross made billions restructuring failed companies, often with significant layoffs and budget reductions. Ross helped Trump resurrect his casino company after bankruptcy in the early 1990s. He has been opposed to free trade agreements.

“I think there’s a big difference between the impact of trade agreements on corporate America and the impact on Mr. and Mrs. America,” he told CNBC in August. “Corporate America has adjusted to them by investing lots of capital offshore. … What we’re doing is we’re exporting jobs and importing products, instead of exporting products and keeping jobs.”

Ross has a bachelor of arts in science at Yale and a master of business administration at Harvard.

In addition to Ross and Mnuchin, five other Cabinet posts have been filled — Mike Pence (vice president), Jeff Sessions (attorney general), Betsy DeVos (education), Tom Price (health and human services) and Elaine Chao (transportation).

It was reported Wednesday that Trump is considering naming Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., as director of national intelligence.

The Commerce Department oversees the Census Bureau, the Patent Office,