Business ties made public for Trump’s USDA pick Sonny Perdue

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The Office of Government Ethics released on Sunday disclosure documents filed by President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture, former governor of Georgia Sonny Perdue.

Perdue listed eight organizations that he holds outside the United States Government in the disclosure documents. The organizations include Georgia-based Perdue Properties LLC and Perdue Real Estate Holdings LLLP, both of which cite Perdue as sole owner.

In addition to his ownership interests, Perdue is also a board member for the National Grain and Feed Association.

Several agribusiness companies are listed among Perdue’s other assets and income sources, including grain merchandiser AGrowStar LLC, the largest of his holdings worth an estimated value of up to $25 million. ProAg Products LLC and Houston Fertilizer and Grain Co., Inc. are also among Perdue’s holdings, disclosure documents show.

Real estate ventures owned by Perdue are worth between $1.1 million and $2.3 million, according to the documents.

Critics say the lengthy list of financial interests and business holdings raises concerns regarding Perdue’s ability to separate his personal agenda from his potential duties as the leader of the USDA.

On his part, Perdue has promised to establish two new trusts to manage his interests if confirmed as USDA secretary. He has also stated that he will resign from membership positions that may present conflicts of interest.

While some are critical of the Trump pick to head the agriculture department, many prominent past and current government officials have backed the former governor as well. Obama administration USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack endorsed Perdue in January, and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) endorsed him in February.

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