Oversight Committee Insists on Compliance from Wilbur Ross in Conflicts of Interest Investigation

Sep 9, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (Sept. 9, 2019)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross regarding the Committee’s investigation of Ross’ potential conflicts of interest after he refused for months to comply with the Committee’s request for documents.

“Rather than cooperate with this investigation, you have refused for more than eight months to produce many responsive documents, and the documents you have provided have been heavily redacted,” Cummings wrote.  “Even these limited number of redacted documents you have produced raise troubling new questions about your compliance with federal ethics requirements.”

The Committee is investigating a range of issues, including Ross’ compliance with federal laws and regulations, his compliance with the Department’s ethics agreement, the accuracy of his public financial disclosures, and possible conflicts of interest that may impair his ability to make impartial policy decisions. 

“Your actions do not appear to reflect a good faith approach to the accommodations granted to you by the Committee,” Cummings wrote.

In one example, Cummings explained that the Department produced an email describing a proposed meeting between Ross and the Minister of Finance of Cyprus, but it is heavily redacted. 

At the time, Ross had recently resigned as the Vice Chair of Cyprus’s largest bank, the Bank of Cyprus.  He had been a shareholder in the bank, but he never filed a public transaction report showing when or how he divested his financial interest in the bank.

“The Committee needs the unredacted documents to understand the context for the proposed meeting, the guidance you received from agency ethics officials, whether the meeting took place, and what was discussed,” Cummings wrote.

Cummings explained that Ross’ decision to withhold and conceal this information from Congress is inconsistent with the approach taken by other agency heads, who have produced these types of documents to the Committee without redactions. 

Cummings requested all unredacted documents by September 19, 2019, or the Committee will consider alternative steps to secure compliance.

Click here to read today’s letter.

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116th Congress