In the Trump administration, potential conflicts of interest aren't a liability but a sort of badge of honor, proof that an appointee has achieved a Trumpian level of business success. Got tie-ups with the Bank of Cyprus and the largest steel manufacturer in the world? Take Commerce! Have so many sources of income on your financial disclosure that you forgot to mention a Cayman investment fund? Treasury! Run what's essentially its own sovereign nation? State! After all, no matter how deeply conflicted your liabilities, nothing can top the Donald.
But it looks like Trump-team hype-man Anthony Scaramucci has managed to find a conflict so troubling that even the Trump administration is having second thoughts. At Fox Business, our friend Charlie Gasparino reports that Scaramucci's appointment to the coveted post of Director of Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs has been held up by lingering questions over conflicts of interest from his previous life as a fund-of-fund manage.
Scaramucci's swearing in as assistant to the president and director of the White House office of public liaison and intergovernmental affairs was initially scheduled for the second week in January. A senior Trump official described the delay as being related to “conflict of interest issues he's having from his previous business life.”
“He hasn’t resolved all of his issues that prohibit him from working with the government,” the official added.
No one said what the conflict is, but a sentient observer might question the sale earlier this month of Mooch's SkyBridge Capital, reportedly to a couple of shadowy acronyms, one a Chinese conglomerate and the other basically a black box. From Bloomberg:
A few days after Anthony Scaramucci lined up a top job in Donald Trump’s White House, he struck a multimillion-dollar deal to exit his investment firm, selling part of his interest to a little-known company, RON Transatlantic EG.
Scaramucci, the organizer of a popular hedge fund conference, said in an interview Friday that he doesn’t know the identity of RON’s investors and relied, as is customary, on RON’s managers to vet them. Spokesmen for his firm, SkyBridge Capital, and for RON declined to say who the investors are.
It's not just the anonymity of the investors that has heads turning. It's also the price Scaramucci fetched, reportedly in excess of $180 million – a valuation of 7.2 times Ebitda. “That’s a rich valuation for a fund-of-funds transaction,” CBIZ Valuation Group managing director Karl D’Cunha told Bloomberg.
And if a future White House staffer selling his business to a coalition of shadowy foreign investors for a suspiciously high prices wasn't enough to worry Trump's team, he's might also have a beef with reality TV star-turned-Trump confidant Omarosa, Fox reports. This is the Trump White House after all.
In a statement to Fox, however, spokeswoman Hope Hicks sought to put us all at ease:
Hicks denied any internal issues between Scaramucci and Manigault, adding "the confirmation delay is purely stemming from Scaramucci’s past business conflicts."
Good to know Mooch's hangup isn't friction with another staffer but merely an undisclosed conflict of interest glaring enough to concern a guy who thinks that having his children run his global real estate empire insulates him from political influence.