Forbes: Wilbur Ross Is a Big Fat Liar

Bill Clark/Congressional Quarterly/Newscom via ZUMA. Pinocchio nose by Kevin Drum.

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Oh man, I almost forgot about this. Remember the other day I mentioned that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is a multi-billionaire? Funny story about that.

It turns out that in his financial disclosure to Congress, his net worth only amounted to about $700 million. Forbes asked him about this, and Ross said it was because he had put about $2 billion into family trusts that he didn’t have to disclose:

So began the mystery of Wilbur Ross’ missing $2 billion. And after one month of digging, Forbes is confident it has found the answer: That money never existed. It seems clear that Ross lied to us, the latest in an apparent sequence of fibs, exaggerations, omissions, fabrications and whoppers that have been going on with Forbes since 2004. In addition to just padding his ego, Ross’ machinations helped bolster his standing in a way that translated into business opportunities. And based on our interviews with ten former employees at Ross’ private equity firm, WL Ross & Co., who all confirmed parts of the same story line, his penchant for misleading extended to colleagues and investors, resulting in millions of dollars in fines, tens of millions refunded to backers and numerous lawsuits. Additionally, according to six U.S. senators, Ross failed to initially mention 19 suits in response to a questionnaire during his confirmation process.

….Ross’ questionable assertions to Forbes, combined with a recent controversy about a multimillion-dollar stake in a shipping company that does big business with close associates of Vladimir Putin, paint a clearer picture of the commerce secretary’s tactics….“Wilbur doesn’t have an issue with bending the truth,” says David Wax, who worked alongside Ross for 25 years and served as the No. 3 person in his firm. Another former colleague, who requested anonymity, was less circumspect: “He’s lied to a lot of people.”

Wilbur Ross sounds like a man who really fits into Donald Trump’s cabinet, doesn’t he? He lies a lot. He pretends he has more money than he does. He has oddly unexplained ties to Russian tycoons. He loves trade barriers. He apparently has a titanic but fragile ego. I wonder who recommended this guy to Trump?

Oh, and the whole Forbes piece is well worth a read. Ross is really quite the guy.

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate