A group of Democratic U.S. senators are pressing Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts about his past political fundraising as they consider his nomination for deputy commerce secretary, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Ricketts was nominated for the post in November by President Donald Trump.
Sens. Tom Udall of New Mexico, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Edward Markey of Massachusetts reportedly pushed for more information Tuesday about potential conflicts of interest related to Ricketts' involvement with two GOP fundraising committees.
One of those groups, Future45, spent nearly $25 million opposing Democrat Hillary Clinton's unsuccessful 2016 presidential bid. According to the report, Ricketts’ father, TD Ameritrade founder and CEO Joe Ricketts, dumped $1 million into the group's coffers in September.
The other group, 45Committee, deals in "dark money," which means the organization doesn’t have to disclose its funding sources. "Dark money" groups spend money supporting or opposing politicians, but don't coordinate with candidates or campaigns. According to the report, the committee spent over $18 million against Clinton and more than $3 million in support of President Donald Trump.
The group of senators noted that 45Committee was spending millions of dollars on TV ads that looked to boost some of Trump’s cabinet nominees, including recently confirmed Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
In a letter Tuesday, the group of Democratic senators said multiple sources indicated that Ricketts led the two groups, raising money for both. They noted that the Commerce Department has wide-ranging jurisdiction over the country’s "economy, business and communities," adding that the department “can positively or negatively impact individuals’ jobs and companies’ bottom lines.”
“If nominees and officials to the highest positions at this department are raising and spending money for partisan political causes without disclosing their donors, the opportunities for conflicts of interest and abuse of power are vast and far-reaching,” the senators wrote.
The Democrats pushed for additional information Tuesday on Ricketts’ roles within the committees in order to assess potential conflicts and whether he should recuse himself from certain matters moving forward, the Tribune reports.
The group also reportedly requested that Ricketts provide a full list of donations that he and his family made over the past five years to politically active nonprofits.