John Kelly, Secretary of Homeland Security
Approved by Congress – 1/2o
BIOGRAPHY: Retired Marine general. A Boston native, Kelly first joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1970, rising through the ranks to lead troops in Iraq in 2008 and 2009. He retired in 2016 after a 45-year career, including a stint as head of U.S. Southern Command, overseeing U.S. military activities in South and Central America, including the military jail at Guantanamo Bay. His son, Lt. Robert Michael Kelly, was killed in action in Afghanistan.
CORPORATE TIES: No known corporate posts.
CAMPAIGN DONATIONS: No donations to federal candidates.
LOBBYING: No known lobbying activity
Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
BIOGRAPHY: Retired neurosurgeon. Raised by a single mother in poverty in Detroit, Carson earned a scholarship to Yale and became director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He wrote several books, including an autobiography, “Gifted Hands,” which was turned into a made-for-TV movie. After retiring in 2013, he became a conservative activist, running unsuccessfully for president before endorsing Trump.
CORPORATE TIES: Kellogg, Costco, Vaccinogen. Carson joined the board of directors of cereal maker Kellogg in 1997 and Costco grocery retailer in 1999, resigning both positions when he launched his presidential campaign in 2015. He also that year resigned as chairman of the board for Vaccinogen, a Baltimore company working on a cancer vaccine. He served on advisory boards for HomeCentris Healthcare and biotech company Berg LLC.
CAMPAIGN DONATIONS: Major fundraiser. Carson raised over $82.4 million for his unsuccessful presidential campaign, a serious haul for a first-time candidate. A superPAC in support of his candidacy, the 2016 Committee, raised $15 million of that amount. He’s not much of a donor, however, giving $6,250 to Republican candidates and another $1,050 to Democratic candidates over the years.
LOBBYING: Employed lobbyists. From 1998 to 2015, when he was on its board of directors, Kellogg spent more than $15.4 million on lobbying the federal government.
BETSY DeVOS, SECRETARY of EDUCATION
BIOGRAPHY: Billionaire philanthropist. A Holland, Mich., native, DeVos became a philanthropist and conservative education activist after marrying an heir to the Amway Corp. fortune. In Michigan, she pushed for private school vouchers and supported philanthropic causes in Christian communities. She was elected chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party four times between 1996 and 2005.
CORPORATE TIES: Windquest Group. Along with her husband, Dick, she started the Windquest Group, a privately held investment and management firm that has invested in everything from boxed water to clean energy. She has been the director and Chief Creative Officer of the Stow Company, a home organization company. She and her husband are reportedly indirect investors in Social Finance Inc., a company that refinances student loans.
CAMPAIGN DONATIONS: Mega-donor. DeVos is one of the biggest Republican donors in the country. She and her husband have given almost $7.8 million to federal Republican candidates over the years, plus millions more in Michigan state politics. In the 2016 Republican primary, she backed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, criticizing Trump in an interview.
LOBBYING: Headed major lobbying efforts. In 2010, she founded the American Federation for Children, which backs vouchers and charter school efforts, serving as chairwoman until November. In 2015 and 2016, the advocacy group spent $150,000 on federal lobbying. She previously headed All Children Matter, an advocacy group that lobbied for school choice and was fined $5.3 million for campaign finance violations in Ohio, which it still owes.
Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation
BIOGRAPHY: Former Labor Secretary. Born in Taiwan, Chao emigrated to the United States at the age of eight. After earning an MBA at Harvard Business School, she served as director of the Peace Corps and president and CEO of the United Way of America before serving as the Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush for eight years. She has also been a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation and a contributor to Fox News.
CORPORATE TIES: Wells Fargo, NewsCorp, Ingersoll Rand, Vulcan Materials. In 2011, Chao was elected to the board of directors for Wells Fargo bank. In 2012, she joined the board of NewsCorp, a media company that owns the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post. In 2015, she joined the boards of the Ingersoll Rand, a manufacturing conglomerate, and Vulcan Materials Co., a producer of construction materials.
CAMPAIGN DONATIONS: Big donor. Along with her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Chao has given $195,960 to Republican candidates over the years.
LOBBYING: Employed lobbyists. Since 2011, Wells Fargo has spent $37 million lobbying the federal government. NewsCorp, which split into two companies in 2013, spent $1.2 million from 2014 to 2016. Ingersoll Rand spent $1.4 million in 2015 and 2016, while Vulcan Materials spent $890,000 on lobbying those two years. In total, she has served on boards of corporations that have spent almost $40.5 million lobbying the federal government.