President-elect Donald Trump, who rallied populist voters by vowing to “drain the swamp” of the Washington elite, is filling his Cabinet with people who share a familiar trait: They’re very rich.
On Wednesday, Trump announced Steve Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive who served as his campaign finance chairman, as his choice for treasury secretary and Wilbur Ross, a private equity investor, as his pick for secretary of commerce.
According to Forbes, Ross has a personal fortune estimated to be worth $2.9 billion, making him the country’s 232nd richest person. Mnuchin, who spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs before founding a Hollywood film investment firm, is said to be worth $40 million, though some consider that estimate too low.
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Todd Ricketts, whose family owns the Chicago Cubs and is the 66th richest person in America, per Forbes, was named deputy commerce secretary on Wednesday.
Tom Price, Trump’s pick for health and human services secretary, is an orthopedic surgeon turned six-term Republican congressman from Georgia. Price’s net worth: $13.6 million.
Elaine Chao, Trump’s choice for transportation secretary, was labor secretary under former President George W. Bush and is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Chao’s net worth: about $22 million.
That’s chump change in comparison to Trump’s choice for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, former chair of the Michigan Republican Party and a major GOP donor whose family’s net worth is estimated by Forbes to be $5.1 billion, making them the 88th richest in America — and richer than her would-be boss. According to Forbes, Trump’s net worth fell $800 million last year to $3.7 billion, making putting him at No. 156 on the magazine’s list of wealthiest people in the U.S. (Trump, who claims to be worth far more than $10 billion, railed against the “bankrupt magazine” last year, when Forbes assigned him a $4.5 million net worth.)
Other candidates Trump is reportedly considering for cabinet posts are even richer.
Harold Hamm, an oil-and-gas magnate and rumored pick for secretary of energy, has a net worth of $14.6 billion.
Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn, who Trump is reportedly considering for a senior administration job, is one of the highest-paid executives on Wall Street. (Cohn’s salary was $20.5 million in 2015.)
Texas Rep. Michael T. McCaul, a candidate for secretary of homeland security, is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, with a net worth north of $117 million. McCaul’s wife, Linda Mays McCaul, is the daughter of billionaire and Clear Channel Communications founder Lowry Mays. (McCaul’s Texas home is sometimes referred to as the “Taj McCaul.”)
And Mitt Romney, said to be among the finalists for secretary of state, is said to be worth $250 million.
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But does all of this combined wealth mean Trump’s cabinet, if confirmed, will be the richest ever? That depends on how you factor inflation.
Andrew Mellon, the banker from the wealthy Mellon family who was appointed treasury secretary in the 1921, was one of the richest people in America during his decade in the White House.
And the Cabinets of recent presidents have had plenty of rich members.
Henry Paulson, a former Goldman Sachs chairman who served as treasury secretary under President George W. Bush, had a net worth of $700 million when he was appointed in 2006. Paulson’s predecessor, former CSX Corp. head John Snow, had a net worth of more than $62 million when he took over for Bush’s first treasury secretary, Paul H. O’Neill (net worth: $63 million-plus). Bush’s first commerce secretary, Don Evans, was the head of a $1.1 billion Texas oil company when he took the job in 2001.
Between his stints as defense secretary for Presidents Gerald Ford and George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld amassed a financial portfolio worth an estimated $50 million. And Secretary of State Colin Powell reported at least $24.5 million in assets.
Perhaps not surprisingly, W.’s Cabinet was dubbed “Millionaires’ row.”
President Obama’s, too, had its share of rich people.
Secretary of State John Kerry, whose wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, is an heiress to the Heinz ketchup fortune, is said to be worth close to $200 million. His predecessor, Hillary Clinton, had a combined net worth with former President Bill Clinton of about $55 million when she was appointed by President Obama in 2009.
And Penny Pritzker, Obama’s secretary of commerce, has a net worth of $2.4 billion.
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