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"Candidate Trump ran against the establishment. President-Elect Trump has handed over the keys to his administration to the establishment." (Photo: Michael Candelori/flickr/cc)

Trump's Administration Poised to Be Wealthiest in Modern US History

Wilbur Ross, commerce secretary nominee, has 10 times as much wealth as previous richest administration, under George W. Bush, combined

Nadia Prupis

Despite his populist appeals, President-elect Donald Trump is putting together the wealthiest administration in modern U.S. history, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

The collective wealth of Trump's appointees is astronomically larger than the previous richest cabinet under George W. Bush, whose administration had an "inflation-adjusted net worth" of about $250 million combined, as the Post's Jim Tankersley and Ana Swanson point out. Trump's nominee for commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, has roughly 10 times that wealth alone.

In addition to Ross, who is worth about $2.5 billion, Trump's nominee for education secretary, Amway heiress Betsy DeVos, has a family net worth of $5.1 billion.

Todd Rickets, the nominee for deputy secretary of commerce, is the son of a billionaire and co-owns the Chicago Cubs.

Elaine Chao, transportation secretary appointee and wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), is the daughter of a shipping and trading tycoon. In 2014, following several generous gifts from the Chao family, McConnell's personal wealth stood at $22.8 million.

Steven Mnuchin, Trump's pick for head of the Treasury Department, is a former Goldman Sachs executive and Hollywood producer whose net worth is estimated at $40 million, much of it accrued while working in the financial industry—including profiting off the financial crisis.

As Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) noted on Twitter, Mnuchin "would get to decide how to regulate 30 of our biggest banks—including the bank where he currently serves as board member."

Tankersley and Swanson continue:

Future appointments could further increase the wealth of Trump's cabinet. Harold Hamm—a self-made oil industry executive who ranks 30th on the Forbes 400, a list of the wealthiest Americans, with a net worth of $16.7 billion,—is on Trump’s shortlist for secretary of energy. Andrew Puzder, a restaurant industry executive, has been floated for labor secretary.

"It's important to recognize that everyone's perspective and policy and government is shaped by the kind of life you've lived," Nicholas Carnes, a political scientist at Duke University, told the Post. "The research really says that when you put a bunch of millionaires in charge, you can expect public policy that helps millionaires at the expense of everybody else."

On the campaign trail, Trump decried a political system he said was rigged against the working class and made a now-infamous promise to "drain the swamp" of establishment figures. But his cabinet picks thus far contradict his populist rhetoric and have garnered widespread criticism from other lawmakers, as well as public policy and government watchdog groups.

As Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, said after the election, "Candidate Trump ran against the establishment. President-Elect Trump has handed over the keys to his administration to the establishment."


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