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VOL. 41 | NO. 2 | Friday, January 13, 2017

Trump's pick for Commerce has business ties around globe

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Unlike his soon-to-be boss, the choice for commerce secretary has agreed to divorce himself from a vast financial empire.

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross can expect questions about his business dealings at his Senate confirmation hearing. Senators also plan to quiz Ross on trade, and how he plans to make good on President-elect Donald's Trump's promise to boost American exports.

Trump picked Ross for the post. He is to appear Wednesday before the Senate Commerce Committee.

Worth an estimated $2.9 billion, Ross has extensive business ties around the globe. Supporters say that makes him ideal to represent American business interests abroad.

"I believe his extensive management experience in the private sector, and his understanding of the challenges faced by workers and businesses alike, will equip him well for the job of leading the Department of Commerce," Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, says in prepared remarks.

"I will be asking Mr. Ross about many of the challenges facing the department and our economy. First and foremost, I will be asking how he plans to deal with trade matters," Thune adds.

Ross has signed an ethics agreement with the Office of Government Ethics, which posted it on its website Tuesday evening. In it, he agrees to divest from 40 different businesses and investments within 90 days of being confirmed. He agreed to divest from another 40 within 180 days.

Among the businesses he will separate himself from is WL Ross & Co., the private equity firm he founded in 2000.

Trump has had a run-in with the head of the ethics agency because he says he won't completely divest himself from his business empire. Instead, Trump says he will turn control of his business over to his sons.

Walter Shaub Jr., who directs the office, said Trump's plan is insufficient to avoid conflicts of interest.

The commerce secretary has several roles in promoting American business interests in the U.S. and abroad. The department works on trade issues, working to attract foreign investment in the U.S. The department also oversees agencies that manage fisheries, weather forecasting and the Census Bureau, which will conduct a census in 2020.

Ross grew up in an affluent New Jersey suburb before heading to Yale University, Harvard Business School and Wall Street.

His private equity firm buys failing companies and repairs them to make them presentable to investors. The firm then sells the investment through a sale or public offering.

Much of the firm's work is in struggling industries, including textiles, subprime mortgage servicing, steel and coal.

Ross is a specialist in bankruptcies, and he played a role in helping Trump when the president-elect's bad bets in the Atlantic City casino industry put him on the verge of losing everything.

Ross headed the restructuring practice at investment banking firm Rothschild Inc., when he persuaded creditors to drop a plan to strip Trump's name and ownership from the Taj Casino, a victory that set the stage for Trump's eventual resurrection.

Like Trump, Ross is on Twitter. But unlike the president-elect, Ross is not a prolific tweeter.

According to his profile, Ross joined Twitter in December and has written exactly one tweet: "I look forward to working with @realDonaldTrump to restore fair trade & stand up for USA jobs if confirmed as Secretary of Commerce."

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
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MORTGAGES 0 0 0
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 0
BUILDING PERMITS 0 0 0
BANKRUPTCIES 0 0 0
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 0 0
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
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