Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

36 hours left in this Mid-Year Campaign. This is our hour of need.
If you value independent journalism, please support Common Dreams.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

"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."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

'We Will Fight! We Will Win!': Nearly 200 Abortion Rights Defenders Arrested in DC

"If people don't see the rage," said one woman at the protest, "nothing changes."

Jon Queally ·


Naomi Klein: The US Is in the Midst of a 'Shock-and-Awe Judicial Coup'

"The rolling judicial coup coming from this court is by no means over," warned the author of "The Shock Doctrine."

Jake Johnson ·


Markey, Bowman Join Climate Coalition in Urging SCOTUS Expansion

"We cannot sit idly by," said Markey, "as extremists on the Supreme Court eviscerate the authorities that the government has had for decades to combat climate change and reduce pollution."

Brett Wilkins ·


Ocasio-Cortez Says US 'Witnessing a Judicial Coup in Process'

"It is our duty to check the Court's gross overreach of power in violating people's inalienable rights and seizing for itself the powers of Congress and the president."

Brett Wilkins ·


Critics Say Biden Drilling Bonanza 'Won't Lower Gas Prices' But 'Will Worsen Climate Crisis'

"President Biden's massive public lands giveaway in the face of utter climate catastrophe is just the latest sign that his climate commitments are mere rhetoric," said one campaigner.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo