President-elect Donald Trump announced businessman Todd Ricketts, the co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, as his nominee for deputy secretary of commerce on Wednesday.
But Trump hasn’t always viewed favourably the Ricketts family — one of the most powerful in Republican politics.
As a matter of fact, in February, Trump accused them of having “a lot to hide” after family matriarch Marlene Ricketts contributed $3 million to an anti-Trump super PAC.
“I hear the Rickets [sic] family, who own the Chicago Cubs, are secretly spending $’s against me,” Trump posted to Twitter. “They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!”
Asked about the accusation during an interview with The Washington Post’s editorial board soon after, Trump said the family should “stop playing around.”
“Look, they are spending vicious … I don’t even know these people,” he told the Post. “Those Ricketts. I actually said they ought to focus on the Chicago Cubs and, you know, stop playing around.”
Trump said his plan for retribution would include placing negative ads against them focusing on “what a rotten job” the family was doing running the Cubs.
“I mean, they are spending on me,” Trump said. “I mean, so am I allowed to say that? I’ll start doing ads about their baseball team. That it’s not properly run or that they haven’t done a good job in the brokerage business lately.”
Todd’s brother, Tom Ricketts, responded to Trump’s original tweet by noting how it was “a little surreal when Donald Trump threatens your mum.”
“The fact is whether it’s my mum or my dad on his Ending Spending [a super PAC founded by Joe Ricketts] stuff or my sister on marriage equality issues or my brothers and what they do or what we do with the team, we are pretty much are an open book,” he said. “We stand up for what we believe in. We support the causes we think are important. That is what America should be. That is who we are.”
Tom noted that his focus at the time was on the Cubs breaking the more than 100-year championship curse dogging the franchise, which it did accomplish earlier this month in defeating the Cleveland Indians to win the World Series.
Asked about what Trump meant by what the family is hiding, Tom said he had “no idea.”
“Look, if we had something to hide, you guys [the Chicago media] would have found it by now, I’m sure,” he said. “I have no idea.”
But in May, when another brother in the family, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts endorsed Trump, the tide began to turn in the relationship.
“”I like him so much, I’m starting to like the Chicago Cubs again,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Omaha shortly after Pete’s endorsement.
And once the general election got underway, family members took control of the Future45 super PAC, a group for which Todd reportedly helped raise $30 million. Joe and Marlene, meanwhile, donated more than $1 million to groups supporting Trump.
During a recent meeting at Trump’s New Jersey golf course, Todd said he and the president-elect laughed off their personal differences, according to Politico.
“We supported other candidates in the primary, but there was never a time when we weren’t going to support the Republican nominee for the general election,” he said.
In his Wednesday announcement of the nomination, Trump called Todd “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,” he said. “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.”
Todd, who will have to go through Senate confirmation for the post, could be asked in a hearing about what Trump meant when he posted that the family has “a lot to hide.”
In the statement released by Trump’s transition team, Todd said he was “honored” to be nominated for the post. He would serve under another of Trump’s nominations, billionaire financier Wilbur Ross, who was tapped to run the Commerce Department.
“I am honored that President-elect Donald J. Trump has asked me to serve our country at this critical juncture in our history,” Todd said. “Advancing practical policies that promote economic opportunity is critical to making America great again. I’m eager to begin this important work and serving with Wilbur Ross to implement President-elect Trump’s economic agenda, which will improve the lives of all Americans.”
During his recent interview with Politico, Ricketts said he’s pushing for “reform” of tax laws, Obamacare, and the Dodd-Frank law.