(Newser) – The buzziest political story of the day comes courtesy of Dan Alexander at Forbes, who’s out with some devastating allegations against Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Alexander interviewed 21 people who say that Ross, through his private equity firm WL Ross & Co., “siphoned or outright stole a few million here and a few million there.” All told, the allegations add up to more than $120 million, prompting this jarring assessment: “If even half of the accusations are legitimate, the current United States secretary of commerce could rank among the biggest grifters in American history,” writes Alexander. Ross denies this, asserting that “the SEC has never initiated any enforcement action against me,” though Alexander notes that Ross’ firm did get hit with a $2.3 million fine in 2016. One lawsuit against the firm is in the appeals stage, and two others have been settled.
The story details the alleged transgressions—some involving allegations of improperly calculated fees to clients—but it’s also drawing attention for something on a much smaller scale. In demonstrating that Ross has a reputation for frugality, Alexander writes this: “Two former WL Ross colleagues remember the commerce secretary taking handfuls of Sweet’N Low packets from a nearby restaurant, so he didn’t have to go out and buy some for himself.” Other tales of being a cheapskate, including unfulfilled pledges to charity, follow, and a commerce official dismisses them as “petty nonsense.” Besides, the official adds, Ross doesn’t add sweetener to his coffee. Click to read the full story, which accuses Ross of trying to mislead Forbes about his wealth in order to climb the rankings of the rich.
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