Vanita Gupta Says She Backs $15 'Livable Wage.' Her Family Business Pays Mexicans $1.30 an Hour.

Biden nominee for Justice Department owns up to $1 million in auto parts manufacturer

Biden nominee Vanita Gupta / Getty Images
March 17, 2021

President Joe Biden's nominee for a top Justice Department post is a longtime advocate for raising the minimum wage to $15, but she owns up to $1 million in stock in a company chaired by her father that pays its Mexican workforce as little as $1.30 an hour.

Vanita Gupta—whose net worth of between $42 and $187 million makes her the Biden administration's wealthiest nominee—owns at least $500,000 in Aptiv PLC, an international auto parts manufacturer chaired by her father. In contrast with Gupta's advocacy for a $15 an hour minimum wage, the company pays some of its Mexican employees hourly rates as low as $1.30, according to active job listings reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon. One job posted on, for example, offers a line operator role at a Zacatecas plant that pays the U.S. dollar equivalent of $260 a month for a 50-hour per week job.

In her nonprofit work and her personal social media, Gupta has repeatedly expressed support for both the $15 per hour minimum wage and a so-called livable wage.

Gupta's investments have come under increased scrutiny as her confirmation goes down to the wire. A new ad by the Judicial Crisis Network, which is pushing Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) to reconsider his support for Gupta, takes aim at her stake worth tens of millions of dollars in Avantor, a separate company tied to Mexico's heroin production. The Free Beacon reported last month that Gupta was attempting to sidestep the ethical minefield created by her father's wide array of corporate interests.

In her role as president and CEO of The Education Fund, Gupta made a moral case for raising the minimum wage. In a 2018 press release, Gupta said that "a living wage is not a privilege, it is a civil and human right for all." Her case for raising wages was unequivocal: "Raising wages is a moral question: do we value the people who are the engine of our economy or not? The answer must be yes."

Aptiv's business practices appear to fail Gupta's own test of valuing people who are the engines of economies.

Other positions currently advertised by the company include a full-time general operator job that pays $290 a month and a production line operator position that pays $274 a month.

Gupta's personal financial disclosure forms list between $500,001 and $1 million in Aptiv stock, and she has taken profits in recent years as well. The forms show that Gupta received between $5,000 and $15,000 in dividends from Aptiv last year.

The Biden administration did not respond to a request for comment on the investment. Aptiv also did not respond to inquiries.

Aptiv, formerly known as Delphi Automotive, has been helmed by Gupta's father, Rajiv Gupta, since 2015. He has been a director since 2009. According to Aptiv's most recent filing with the SEC, Rajiv Gupta owns 36,861 shares in the company, a stake valued at over $5 million.

Vanita Gupta served as a limited liability partner of an Aptiv subsidiary while her father was on the board. From April to November 2011, she was an officer for the United Kingdom-based Aptiv International Holdings, which remains a subsidiary of Aptiv.

In addition to paying its Mexican workforce far below what Gupta argues is a "livable wage," the company touts "a major manufacturing base and strong customer relationships" in China in Securities and Exchange Commission documents and, according to available SEC filings, paid a 3 percent effective tax rate last year. By comparison, the current corporate tax rate is 21 percent.

The Justice Department has investigated and supervised several entities controlled by Gupta's father. If confirmed as associate attorney general, Vanita Gupta would oversee the divisions that have supervised her father's business interests in the past.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on Gupta's nomination on Thursday morning.