Senate Dem calls for ethics probe of Treasury secretary

Senate Dem calls for ethics probe of Treasury secretary
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The ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee is asking whether Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin violated his ethics agreement when he promoted a movie produced by a company he founded.

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocratic senator predicts Franken will resign Thursday Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Lobbying world MORE (D-Ore.) asked the Office of Government Ethics on Monday to review comments Mnuchin made when was asked during an interview for a movie recommendation. The Treasury secretary suggested “Lego Batman,” produced by Ratpac-Dune Entertainment Holdings LLC, which Mnuchin founded and in which he holds a financial stake.

“I’m not allowed to promote anything that I’m involved in,” said Mnuchin in an interview Friday. “So I just want to have the legal disclosure, you’ve asked me the question, and I am not promoting any product. But you should send all your kids to ‘Lego Batman.’”

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Mnuchin agreed to divest from Ratpac-Dune within 120 days of his Feb. 19 confirmation in an ethics agreement with the OGE, an independent federal agency that oversees ethics compliance. He also agreed to “not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter that to my knowledge has a direct and predictable effect on the financial interests of the entity until I have divested it.”

The OGE also bans federal employees from using their post “to endorse any product, service or enterprise.”

Wyden said Mnuchin is obligated to tell the Senate Finance Committee when he’s divested from businesses listed in his ethics agreement and has yet to share that information.

“You have the authority to review potential ethics violations and notify the employee’s agency of any potential violation,” wrote Wyden to OGE Director Walter Shaub, Jr. “I request that you review Sec. Mnuchin’s comments, and report any findings to me and the Treasury Department.”

American Oversight, a nonprofit formed to “uncover and publicize information about malfeasance and corruption” by Trump administration officials, also called for an investigation. The firm’s key figures are Democrats, but the group bills itself as non-partisan.