Senators say Mulvaney comments may have broken the law

by Ryan Smith02 May 2018

Senate Democrats are calling on federal officials to investigate the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for possible violations of campaign finance law.

In a letter to the Office of the Special Counsel, six senators – Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D. Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.) – asked the office to investigate whether Acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney had violated the Hatch Act during his tenure as a South Carolina congressman.

The letter stems from comments Mulvaney made last month at an American Bankers Association conference.

“I’m going to put my old congressional hat on for a second,” Mulvaney said. “We had a hierarchy in our office in Congress. If you are a lobbyist that never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you are a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.” Mulvaney also said that lobbyists from his home state were granted an audience regardless of whether they donated to his political campaigns.

In the letter, the senators said that Mulvaney’s remarks appeared to be an admission of “pay-to-play in Congress” and seemed to “urge bank lobbyists to increase campaign donations.”

Mulvaney’s comments drew criticism from both sides of the aisle, but the six Senators are taking it a step further, insinuating that the acting CFPB director may have broken the law. The Hatch Act prohibits government officials from using their positions for political gain.

“Using an official speech to solicit campaign donations would violate this law,” a news release from Feinstein’s office said.

“Our ‘We the People’ republic depends on public officials serving the public, not using their public trust to consolidate power or enrich themselves or their associates, which is exactly why the Hatch Act exists,” the senators wrote. “As we see in countries across the globe, the abuse of public office undermines governments’ legitimacy and representative democracy.”

The senators said that Mulvaney’s comments “reinforce the American public’s worst fears about a corrupt Washington establishment that sells access and is rigged for special interests with teams of lobbyists and deep pockets.”

 

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