Trump Commerce pick Wilbur Ross was registered Democrat until this month

Palm Beach resident Wilbur Ross, speaking in 2013 at The Beach Club, is President-elect Donald Trump's pick to head the U.S. Department of Commerce. (Meghan McCarthy/The Palm Beach Daily News)
Palm Beach resident Wilbur Ross, speaking in 2013 at The Beach Club, is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the U.S. Department of Commerce. (Meghan McCarthy/The Palm Beach Daily News)

Palm Beach billionaire Wilbur Ross, named today as President-elect Donald Trump‘s choice for Commerce secretary, has been a big-league donor and money raiser for Trump and Republicans over the years.

 

But until two weeks ago, Ross was a registered Democrat, according to the Palm Beach County elections office.

 

Ross registered to vote in Palm Beach County as a Democrat in 2003 and didn’t switch to the GOP until Nov. 17, the elections office said today. Ross couldn’t be reached for comment late this afternoon.

 

Party labels aside, Ross has provided significant financial support to Republicans. He was a vice chairman of the “2016 Trump Victory leadership team,” which raised money for Trump and the Republican National Committee.

 

Since 2013, according to opensecrets.org, Ross’s contributions include $274,400 to the RNC, $56,100 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, $44,400 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, $10,000 to Sen. Marco Rubio‘s Reclaim America PAC, $5,400 to Trump’s campaign and $25,000 to help Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s 2014 re-election.

 

Ross has contributed to Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in 2012 and Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in 2010.

 

Countdown to Inauguration Day: What you need to know today

countdown-to-inaguration-day

COUNTDOWN TO INAUGURATION DAY (Jan. 20, 2017): 51 DAYS

LATEST NEWS

President-elect Trump has filled two key financial, economic Cabinet posts today, including one with a “local.”

But first …

As for appointments …

Tuesday was an active day for the transition team, as several Cabinet seats filled, and deepening controversies over recounts and flag-burning.

THE SCORECARD

Reince Priebus
Reince Priebus

Appointments and nominations made by the Donald Trump administration

WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Reince Priebus

CHIEF STRATEGIST AND SENIOR COUNSELOR: Stephen K. Bannon

SECRETARY OF TREASURY: Steve Mnuchin

SECRETARY OF COMMERCE: Wilbur Ross

SECRETARY OF LABOR: Victoria A. Lipnic

SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Tom Price

SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: Elaine Chao

SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: Betsy DeVos

SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS: Jeff Miller

Steve Bannon
Steve Bannon

ATTORNEY GENERAL: Jeff Sessions

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Michael T. Flynn

CIA DIRECTOR: Mike Pompeo

UN AMBASSADOR: Nikki Haley

Senior White House leadership team, listed on Donald Trump’s official presidential transition website: Vice President-Elect Mike Pence as team chair, with Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Michael T. Flynn, Rudy Giuliani, Jeff Sessions as vice chairs. The following have also been announced as joining the team’s executive committee: Lou Barletta, Marsha Blackburn, Pam Bondi (currently Florida’s Attorney General), Chris Collins, Jared Kushner, Tom Marino, Rebekah Mercer, Steven Mnuchin, Devin Nunes, Anthony Scaramucci, Peter Thiel, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump.

POSITIONS THAT REMAIN TO BE FILLED: Secretary of State, Defense Secretary, Interior Secretary, Agriculture Secretary, Energy Secretary, Homeland Security Secretary, EPA Administrator.

STORIES THAT MATTERED MOST

Trump’s selection of Chao as transportation secretary means detour for Mica

Palm Beach flag flap veteran Donald Trump suggests jail, citizenship loss for flag burners

Carrier says it has struck a deal with Trump to keep nearly 1,000 jobs in Indiana

LATEST SOCIAL MEDIA REACTION

 

Donald Trump taps Palm Beach neighbor Wilbur Ross for Commerce secretary

Palm Beach resident Wilbur Ross, speaking in 2013 at The Beach Club, is President-elect Donald Trump's pick to head the U.S. Department of Commerce. (Meghan McCarthy/The Palm Beach Daily News)
Palm Beach resident Wilbur Ross, speaking in 2013 at The Beach Club, is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the U.S. Department of Commerce. (Meghan McCarthy/The Palm Beach Daily News)

Billionaire investor and Palm Beach resident Wilbur Ross is President-elect Donald Trump‘s pick to be secretary of Commerce, the Trump transition team announced this morning.

 

Ross, 78, is chairman and chief strategy officer of private-equity firm W.L. Ross & Co., which has specialized in buying failing companies. He was Trump’s top economic adviser on trade policy during the campaign. Ross, a $274,400 contributor to the Republican National Committee over the past two years, was also a vice chairman of the “2016 Trump Victory leadership team,” which raised money for Trump and the RNC.

 

Ross is one of two Palm Beach County residents who could serve in Trump’s Cabinet. Retired neurosurgeon and former GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson, mentioned as a potential secretary of Housing and Urban Development, lives in Palm Beach Gardens.

 

Ross’s home on the Intracoastal Waterway, assigned a market value of $23 million on the Palm Beach County property tax rolls, is about a mile from Trump’s second home at Mar-a-Lago.

 

“Wilbur Ross is a champion of American manufacturing and knows how to help companies succeed. Most importantly, he is one of the greatest negotiators I have ever met, and that comes from me, the author of The Art of the Deal. Together, we will take on the special interests and stand up for American jobs,” Trump said in a statement released this morning.

 

“Wilbur knows that cutting taxes for working families, reducing burdensome government regulations and unleashing America’s energy resources will strengthen our economy at a time when our country needs to see significant growth. I am proud to nominate him as Secretary of Commerce.”

 

The Ross announcement came at the same time Trump announced Steven Mnuchin as Treasury secretary and Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts as deputy Commerce secretary.

“I am delighted to have been selected to join President-elect Trump’s Cabinet and look forward to working especially closely with Steve Mnuchin to implement the economic programs which we have developed jointly to implement the President-elect’s strategy for accelerating our economic growth,” Ross said.

Donald Trump says he ‘will be leaving my great business in total’ to focus on presidency

Donald Trump holds a March news conference at his Trump National Golf Course in Jupiter, one of many businesses he has highlighted as a presidential candidate and president-elect.
Donald Trump holds a March news conference at his Trump National Golf Course in Jupiter, one of many businesses he has highlighted as a presidential candidate and president-elect.

President-elect Donald Trump, facing growing conflict-of-interest questions about his international business holdings, says on Twitter this morning that he “will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

Trump says he’ll be holding a “major news conference” in New York with his children on Dec. 15 to discuss the change. The role Trump’s children will play in his businesses isn’t specified in this morning’s tweets. Critics have said turning his businesses over to them won’t eliminate concerns about conflicts between Trump’s public duties and his private interests.

 

In a series of tweets beginning at 6:39 a.m., Trump said: “I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my …great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! While I am not mandated to ….do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President,  to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses..

“Hence, legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task!”

 

Trump’s holdings in Palm Beach County include his Mar-a-Lago Club and golf courses in West Palm Beach and Jupiter.

Senate Democrats not completely shut out of power in Negron administration

Senate President Joe Negron
Senate President Joe Negron

With his three fellow Palm Beach County senators all Democrats, new Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, only went so far Tuesday in his approach to power-sharing with the minority party.

Sens. Jeff Clemens, D-Atlantis, Kevin Rader and Bobby Powell all picked up vice-chairmanships in the Negron administration. But Negron did name a few Senate Democrats to more muscular roles as chairs of four committees, although Republicans rule the rest.

Within the county’s delegation, Clemens will serve as second-in-command of the Community Affairs Committee; Rader, vice-chair of the Agriculture Committee; and Powell, the number two of the budget panel overseeing transportation, tourism and economic development.

Rader also will alternate with a House counterpart to be named later as chair of the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee.

Senate Democrats Bill Montford of Tallahassee, Lauren Book of Plantation, Randolph Bracy of Orlando and Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville were named chairs of Commerce and Tourism, Environmental Preservation and Conservation, Criminal Justice, and Military and Veterans Affairs, respectively.

Ruling Republicans control the remainder of the committees, including the powerful Appropriations Committee, led by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, a one-time Negron rival.

Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, who once represented Wellington, is the new Rules chair, directing the course of legislation in the Senate.

Republicans command 25 of the 4o seats in the Florida Senate, with Democrats making a net gain of only one seat in this month’s elections.

Trump’s selection of Chao as transportation secretary means detour for Mica

U.S. Rep. John Mica
U.S. Rep. John Mica

President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao as his transportation secretary is a detour for outgoing U.S. Rep. John Mica, a Winter Park Republican some Floridians saw as a likely contender for the post.

Chao 63, was labor secretary under President George W. Bush and the first Asian-American woman on a president’s Cabinet. She is the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Trump’s announcement is expected to be made Tuesday afternoon.

Mica was defeated after 24 years in Congress this month by Democrat Stephanie Murphy. A brother, Dan Mica, formerly represented parts of Palm Beach and Broward counties in Congress.

Mica, chair of the House subcommittee on Transportation and Public Assets, and on another panel which oversees transportation spending, was available and talked up among Florida Republicans as a possible Trump appointee.

Countdown to Inauguration Day: What you need to know today

countdown-to-inaguration-day

COUNTDOWN TO INAUGURATION DAY (Jan. 20, 2017): 52 DAYS

LATEST NEWS

That followed Monday’s very vocal tweeting, including:

THE SCORECARD

Reince Priebus
Reince Priebus

Appointments and nominations made by the Donald Trump administration

WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Reince Priebus

CHIEF STRATEGIST AND SENIOR COUNSELOR: Stephen K. Bannon

ATTORNEY GENERAL: Jeff Sessions

SECRETARY OF LABOR: Victoria A. Lipnic

SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Tom Price

SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: Elaine Chao

SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: Betsy DeVos

SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS: Jeff Miller

Steve Bannon
Steve Bannon

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Michael T. Flynn

CIA DIRECTOR: Mike Pompeo

UN AMBASSADOR: Nikki Haley

Senior White House leadership team, listed on Donald Trump’s official presidential transition website: Vice President-Elect Mike Pence as team chair, with Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Michael T. Flynn, Rudy Giuliani, Jeff Sessions as vice chairs. The following have also been announced as joining the team’s executive committee: Lou Barletta, Marsha Blackburn, Pam Bondi (currently Florida’s Attorney General), Chris Collins, Jared Kushner, Tom Marino, Rebekah Mercer, Steven Mnuchin, Devin Nunes, Anthony Scaramucci, Peter Thiel, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump.

POSITIONS THAT REMAIN TO BE FILLED: Secretary of State, Treasury Secretary, Defense Secretary, Interior Secretary, Agriculture Secretary, Commerce Secretary, Energy Secretary, Homeland Security Secretary, EPA Administrator.

STORIES THAT MATTERED MOST

Trump was reported to be furious with spokewoman Kellyanne Conway dishing on Romney opposition

Green Party leader Jill Stein defended her call for a Wisconsin recount, which has been the subject of Trump criticism

Tell-all book: Obama prodded Hillary Clinton to concede on election night

Jerry Falwell, Jr., says he turned down Education secretary post

LATEST SOCIAL MEDIA REACTION

https://twitter.com/seanhannity/status/803440853301731328

 

Palm Beach flag flap veteran Donald Trump suggests jail, citizenship loss for flag burners

A large American flag flies outside Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in 2006.
A large American flag flies outside Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in 2006.

Donald Trump, who once filed a $25 million lawsuit against the town of Palm Beach over his right to fly a large American flag outside his Mar-a-Lago Club, weighed in this morning on Twitter against burning Old Glory.

This is the Trump flagpole flap that came up during Wednesday’s debate

While putting together his administration, President-elect Donald Trump weighed in on flag burning this morning.
While putting together his administration, President-elect Donald Trump weighed in on flag burning this morning.

“Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” Trump tweeted at 6:55 a.m.

Can outsider Donald Trump follow Palm Beach model to White House?

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that burning the flag is expression protected by the First Amendment. The late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia — often praised by Trump —  was part of the majority in a 5-4 ruling in 1989 that struck down a Texas law against flag burning. A year later, Scalia was part of a Supreme Court majority striking down a federal ban on burning the flag.

“If it were up to me, I would put in jail every sandal-wearing, scruffy-bearded weirdo who burns the American flag,” Scalia said in 2015. “But I am not king.”

 

Palm Beach levied $120,000 in fines against Trump in 2006 for flying a 375-square-foot flag on an 80-foot pole outside Mar-a-Lago in violation of town rules that limited flags to 24 square feet on 42-foot poles. Trump filed a $25 million lawsuit saying the town was violating his constitutional rights. He dropped the suit in a 2007 settlement that waived the fines and allowed Trump to fly the flag on a slightly shorter pole and called for him to donate $100,000 to veterans groups.

 

 

 

 

With pay raises likely a victim of tightening state budget, union says “enough is enough”

Will state workers get shut out again?
Will state workers get shut out again?

With prospects of a pay raise for Florida’s 113,00 state workers looking iffy at best, the public employees union told legislative leaders Monday that “enough is enough.”

“Every year, we are told that there is enough money to spend on giveaways to big businesses and enough pork to grease the wheels for re-election back home,” the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said in a statement.

“But when it comes to helping state workers putting food on the table there is suddenly a budget crisis that prevents it,” AFSCME said, days after House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes,  laid out a stark picture for next year’s spending plan.

“Enough is enough,” the union said. “In a budget of $80 billion there is more than enough to invest in our state’s future by investing in those that will make it happen.”

Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, also acknowledges that state money is tightening. But his budget chief, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, has already declared that his “highest personal priority” will be to approve some kind of state worker pay raise.

Latvala also is a supporter of including a pot of money in the state budget as business incentives, designed to lure companies to Florida. Corcoran is dead set against that, and killed the approach last year when Gov. Rick Scott wanted a $250 million incentive package.

The state’s full workforce has drawn only one pay hike in the last decade, increases in 2013 of $1,400 for workers making under $40,000 a year and $1,000 for those making more. The last straightforward, three percent pay raise came in 2006.

Even the increase three years ago, for many, only partially offset what they’d lost when in 2011, Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-led Legislature ordered state workers to contribute 3 percent of their pay to their state pension fund.

 

Donald Trump spokesman defends claim that ‘millions’ voted illegally

Donald Trump at a rally in Boca Raton in March. (Daniel Owen / The Palm Beach Post)
Donald Trump at a rally in Boca Raton in March. (Daniel Owen / The Palm Beach Post)

A spokesman for Donald Trump today defended the president-elect’s claim that “millions of people” voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election and thereby deprived the part-time Palm Beach resident of a popular-vote victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

 

As he wrapped up a Thanksgiving weekend stay at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach on Sunday, Trump told Twitter followers: “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

 

Clinton got about 2 million more votes nationally than Trump. But Trump prevailed in Florida and other closely contested battleground states to win 306 electoral  votes, far exceeding the 270 needed to clinch the presidency.

 

On a conference call with reporters this morning, Trump spokesman Jason Miller mentioned two sources Trump cited on the campaign trail. One was a 2012 Pew Center on the States study that found 24 million voter registrations in the U.S. are “no longer valid or significantly inaccurate,” that 1.8 million dead people remained on voter rolls and that 2.75 million people had registrations in more than one state.

But that study “found no evidence of voter fraud, either due to out-of-date records or deceased individuals still on the rolls,” its author, David Becker, said on Twitter last month after Trump began mentioning the report.

 

Despite the author’s statement, Trump defended citing the report in an exclusive interview with The Palm Beach Post last month.

 

Miller also mentioned a 2014 article by a pair of Old Dominion University professors that said more than 14 percent of non-citizens “indicated that they were registered to vote.” The article, published by the Washington Post “Monkey Cage” blog, was disputed in a peer-reviewed article and sparked three rebuttals and a defense by the authors.

 

Miller said Trump’s claims deserve discussion after the media has spent a “ridiculous” amount of time covering Green Party candidate Jill Stein‘s bid for recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.