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Cubs Co-Owner Todd Ricketts Pulls Name From Consideration For Trump's Commerce Team: Report

By Stephen Gossett in News on Apr 19, 2017 10:21PM

President Donald Trump and Todd Ricketts / Getty Images / Photo: Drew Angerer

Cubs co-owner and board member of family brokerage firm TDAmeritrade Todd Ricketts has pulled his name from consideration as Deputy Commerce Secretary, according to the Sun Times, which broke the story. Ricketts could knot sufficiently unknot his financial holdings to a government ethics office's standard, the paper reports.

"[H]e could not unravel the overlapping family holdings that obviously include the Cubs” and other assets derived from owning the team," a source told the Sun-Times. Ricketts had reportedly completed necessary financial disclosures with the Senate Commerce Committee, but a hearing had yet to proceed pending a go-ahead from the Office of Government Ethics.

A Ricketts spokesman told the Tribune that issues faced by the Department of Commerce "potentially could touch many of Mr. Ricketts' family's current financial interests. Those interests include the Chicago Cubs and TD Ameritrade, the online brokerage that Ricketts' father, Joe, co-founded and built.

Mr. Ricketts is mindful of his obligation to avoid even the appearance of conflict and therefore decided not to pursue this opportunity at the Department of Commerce."

Trump nominated Ricketts a few weeks after the election, on Nov. 30. He cited the Cubs' success, still burning in World Series afterglow, in a statement:

"Todd Ricketts is an immensely successful businessman with unparalleled knowledge of the finance industry. As Deputy Commerce Secretary he will help us cut waste and streamline government so that it works for the people of America. The incredible job he and the Ricketts family did in the purchase and turnaround of the Chicago Cubs - one perfect step after another, leading to the World Championship, is what I want representing our people. I am very proud to have him on our team."

Trump and the Ricketts family had had their previous run-ins during the election cycle before apparently coming to terms. Patriarch Joe Ricketts donated $1 million dollars to the Trump campaign once it was down to he and Hillary—but not before in part funding an anti-Trump political action committee during the GOP primary, much to the then-candidate's ire.

The Office of Government Ethics has reportedly been deluged with calls and complaints about potential conflicts of interest among Trump staff, according to NPR.

Ricketts was not named in a The New York Times report from Saturday about possible conflicts and lack of transparency in the administration. But such instances have been a problem for the White House, according to the report:

"President Trump is populating the White House and federal agencies with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who in many cases are helping to craft new policies for the same industries in which they recently earned a paycheck."

Todd Ricketts is the son of Joe Ricketts, owner of DNAinfo, which in March acquired Gothamist and its satellite outlets, including Chicagoist.