Senate Dems request investigation of Mulvaney over lobbyist remarks
© Greg Nash
A group of Senate Democrats want federal investigators to probe if Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOMB nominee gets hearing on Feb. 9 Republicans now 'shocked, shocked' that there's a deficit Financial firms brace for Biden's consumer agency chief MORE, Trump's budget director and the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), broke a law that limits political activities for federal employees. 
 
Mulvaney, who is both the director of the Office of Management and Budget and the interim chief of the CFPB, told bankers last week that when he was a member of Congress he had a "hierarchy" and would only consider meeting with lobbyists who donated to his campaigns. 
 
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“If you were a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn't talk to you. If you were a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you. If you came from back home and sat in my lobby, I would talk to you without exception, regardless of the financial contributions,” Mulvaney said.
 
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"In his official capacity as interim director of the CFPB, he suggested to 1,300 bankers and lobbyists that they increase their campaign donations as a way to influence lawmakers. If the initial reporting by The New York Times is accurate, it raises troubling questions about whether his statements ran afoul of the Hatch Act," the Democratic senators wrote in their letter. 
 
Mulvaney's comments stunned Washington, marking a rare admission from a former lawmaker. They also sparked outrage from Democrats, who say the comments underscore the broader pay-to-play cronyism they see within the Trump administration. 
 
"These 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," the Democrats added in their letter. 
 
John Czwartacki, a spokesman for Mulvaney, defended the budget chief's comments, saying his point was about the importance of hearing from constituents. 
 
"He was making the point that hearing from people back home is vital to our democratic process and the most important thing our representatives can do. It’s more important than lobbyists and it’s more important than money," Czwartacki told The New York Times