TSE Quick Take: Trump Names WWE’s McMahon to Head SBA

President-Elect Donald Trump picks entrepreneur Linda McMahon, co-founder of World Wrestling Entertainment, to run the Small Business Administration.

Candice Helfand-Rogers By Candice Helfand-Rogers

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

President-Elect Donald Trump has tapped Linda McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and a vocal supporter of his campaign, to be the nation’s top advocate for small business.

“I am honored and humbled to be appointed by President-Elect Trump to serve as head of the U.S. Small Business Administration,” she said in a statement on her official Facebook page. “As an entrepreneur myself, I have shared the experiences of our nation’s small business owners and will do my best to advocate on their behalf.”

Trump, also on Facebook, said that “Linda has a tremendous background and is widely recognized as one of the country’s top female executives advising businesses around the globe.”

If her appointment is confirmed by the Senate, McMahon will succeed Maria Contreras-Sweet, who has served as the head of the agency since 2014.

McMahon, along with her husband, Vince McMahon, launched WWE in 1980 and grew it from a small firm into a billion-dollar business. She became president of the company in 1993 and was named its CEO in 1997, a role she maintained until she left the company in 2009 to enter the world of politics.

That year, she was appointed to the Connecticut State Board of Education, though she stepped down in 2010 to run for Senate as a Republican. She lost that race, but ran again — also unsuccessfully — in 2012. Following these consecutive defeats, she became a fundraiser and donor for Republican candidates and organizations.

During this election year, she gave $6 million to a super PAC supporting Trump’s campaign. However, McMahon has not always spoken positively of the president-elect. In an interview with Yahoo earlier this year, she called Trump’s campaign rhetoric, especially his words about women, “deplorable.”

Trump has said little about what he would do to help small businesses on the campaign trail. (See our breakdown of the candidates’ positions, and our glimpse into his relevant policy proposals, for more.) During her own campaigns, however, McMahon has made some statements about policy, including an assertion that minimum wage increases would hurt small businesses.

She has been criticized in the past for some of the WWE’s practices, including its policy of classifying performers as “independent contractors,” which allows the company to avoid providing health insurance, and its receipt of nearly $10 million in film tax credits from the state of Connecticut.

But she has also been lauded by others for efforts like Women’s Leadership LIVE, an organization she helped launch earlier this year that’s designed to inspire women to pursue positions of authority.

If confirmed, we’ll be watching closely to see how McMahon’s agenda develops and her leadership helps entrepreneurs — especially female entrepreneurs — prosper.

Posted: December 8, 2016

Candice Helfand-RogersTSE Quick Take: Trump Names WWE’s McMahon to Head SBA