After more than 6 months of litigation, American Oversight has uncovered and posted detailed calendars for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Totaling more than 1,800 pages, the calendars show extensive meetings with steel, rail, sugar, and energy industry groups that took place in 2017 — as well as a number of meetings that appear to have attracted scrutiny from Commerce Department ethics officials.
We’ve highlighted several of the key meetings and events below:
Steel Industry Connections
Prior to joining the Trump administration, Secretary Ross had extensive investments in the steel industry, raising concerns of potential conflicts of interest in his new role. Based on the calendars, Ross appears to have been heavily involved in the Trump steel industry policy, taking numerous meetings with steel executives.
An entry from October 23, 2017 shows a call with Bob Miller, the CEO of NLMK, a steel producer and manufacturer.
Another entry included a meeting with the Executive Board of the Rail Security Alliance to the discuss the economic concerns presented by the increase of Chinese-owned enterprise in the U.S.
Energy Industry Connections
Ross also met with with CEO of Cheniere Energy, a natural gas exporter, on multiple occasions. Cheniere Energy was linked to the shipping company, Navigator, which Ross had a financial interest in and made a profit from–despite being told by ethics officials that he needed to divest from stocks associated with his former businesses.
His calendars also included a July 12, 2017 meeting with Centrus Energy CEO Daniel Poneman. There is a sense of urgency about scheduling a meeting with Secretary Ross, and a note saying “please schedule this as soon as the schedules fit.”
Another entry showed a meeting with Al Walker, Anadarko Petroleum CEO, about Anadarko’s Mozambique LNG project.
Ross also attended a September 7, 2017 meeting with Polysilicon industry executives about anti-dumping complaints between China and the U.S. that has limited access to Chinese markets. Attendees include: Dow Chemical, REC Silicon, and Wacker Group. On many of these meetings, Ross’ ethics guidance about his ability to participate is completely redacted.
Financial Groups and Trump Ties
In March 2017, Ross met with Fortress Investment Group founder Wes Edens.
The calendars also showed a meeting with Citigroup CEO Mike Corbat, who has defended President Trump’s trade and tax policies. Citigroup also recently loaned money to the Kushners. However, Corbat has since stated that he was unaware of the loan at the time of the meeting.
That same month, Ross met with Treasure Island Hotel and Casino Owner, Phillip Ruffin, a close friend of President Trump and a joint owner of Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas.
In May 2017, Ross met with businessman and Trump donor. The email scheduling the meeting includes the note stating:
“To refresh your memory, I met you at Trump Lunch on July 9th, 2016, and met Donald Trump [B6]. … says the Republican Hindu coalition can make a “significant contribution [towards explosive GDP growth” and and “India Inc is ready to invest in billions in US and also increase its American imports by $100 billion per year under the new Modi trade policy.”
Technology Industry Interests
In March 2017, Ross met with AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson & Bob Quinn, Senior EVP for External and Legislative Affairs. The topics were r
Ross also held a meeting with Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins.
WL Ross & Co Connections
Ross received an invite to speak at the Bipartisan Policy Center think tank that was originally from James Lockhart, Vice Chair of W L Ross & Co.
On September 11, 2017, the Secretary met with Koichi Hamada of the Japan Society. Secretary Ross previously served as Chairman of the Japan Society, and WL Ross & Co, LLC has supported the organization in the past.
Secretary Ross also came under scrutiny for failing to divest from the company Invesco, as required by his ethics agreement when he joined the Trump administration. Entries from time time period between October 31, 2017 and November 16, 2017 when Ross was supposed to sell his Invesco stock are heavily redacted.
However, one week after Ross was supposed to have divested, Ross met with Senior Invesco VP Eliot Honaker. Reports later surfaced that Ross failed to divest from his Invesco stocks associated with his former employer and had made a profit.
Ross’s full detailed calendars are available here — and American Oversight is continuing to investigate Ross’s management of the Commerce Department and his potential conflicts of interest.