Secretary Ross's 2017 meetings with Chevron, Boeing, and Greenbrier CEOs may have violated federal conflict of interest law
Boston, MA - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), sent a letter to the Department of Commerce Designated Agency Ethics Official (DAEO) requesting information regarding Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's meetings with Chevron, Boeing, and Greenbrier officials while holding at least hundreds of thousands of dollars of financial interests in all three companies.
"Secretary Ross's decisions to meet with senior Chevron, Boeing, and Greenbrier officials while maintaining his investments in those companies raises questions about his compliance with federal conflict of interest criminal statutes," the senators wrote.
The federal conflict of interest law, 18 U.S.C.§ 208, states that executive branch officers and officials -- including Cabinet secretaries -- may not participate "personally and substantially" through "decision, approval, disapproval, recommendation, the rendering of advice, investigation, or otherwise" in any "particular matter" in which they, a family member, or a business partner has a financial interest. Federal officials who engage in conduct that constitutes a violation of federal conflict of interest law may be subject to civil or criminal penalties.
As recently as mid-2017, Secretary Ross held financial interests in Chevron, Boeing, and Greenbrier, and met in his official capacity with the CEOs of all three companies:
These meetings raise questions about Secretary Ross's compliance with criminal federal conflict of interest statutes, including 18 U.S.C.§ 208. The senators' letter to the Commerce DAEO requests information and documents related to Secretary Ross's meetings to help them better understand Secretary Ross's adherence to federal conflict of interest law.
This letter to the DAEO comes in the wake of Senator Warren's recent introduction of a sweeping anti-corruption bill that would strengthen federal ethics and conflicts of interest laws, and prohibit cabinet secretaries from owning or trading company stocks.