Don Fox, a former acting director and general counsel of the Office of Government Ethics, said in an email that the letter to Ross is unusual “because inaccuracies and omissions of this magnitude, coupled with Ross taking a position with regard to assets that he was supposed to have divested is so unusual.”
In addition, Fox said he was “concerned” that agency ethics officials had reviewed Ross’ calendar and other materials.
“That’s not what Ethics officials are supposed to do,” Fox said. Rather, he said, such investigations should be done by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Commerce “whose job it is to develop facts to determine if the inaccuracies and omissions really were inadvertent, or if there are grounds for a referral to the Department of Justice.”
(Update, July 13, 2018, 12:07 p.m.: In a statement, Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who serves as ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, called for the Department of Justice to investigate Ross.
“The top federal ethics watchdog confirmed what anyone with eyes and ears already knew: Wilbur Ross’s stock trades and his failure to divest holdings he was required to sell seriously compromised his ability to act in America’s best interests, and may have broken the law. In light of this report the Justice Department should conduct a thorough investigation to ensure that Ross was working on behalf of all Americans and not just his own bank account.”)
Ross, among the wealthiest members of President Donald Trump’s administration, has found his sprawling financial portfolio the subject of concern since becoming commerce secretary in early 2017.
In March 2017, for example, the Center for Public Integrity reported that Ross, who’s helped lead Trump’s protectionist trade policy efforts, then owned a significant stake in Diamond S Shipping Group Inc., which owns medium-range tanker vessels that sail under Chinese flags.
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