Top banking Dem calls for Mulvaney to resign after lobbyist remarks

Top banking Dem calls for Mulvaney to resign after lobbyist remarks
© Greg Nash

The ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday said that White House budget chief Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump’s state of emergency declaration imperils defense budget Mulvaney told Trump officials their 'highest priority' will be deregulation: Axios High stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks MORE should resign over comments suggesting he gave preferential treatment to lobbyists who had donated to his campaigns.

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSmaller tax refunds put GOP on defensive Democrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal GOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats MORE (D-Ohio) said Mulvaney should step down as Office of Management and Budget director and acting chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) after his Tuesday comments before a crowd of bankers.

Mulvaney, a former GOP congressman from South Carolina, said Tuesday that he would only meet with lobbyists who had donated to his political campaigns but valued the opinions of his constituents over hired guns.

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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 told a conference held by the American Bankers Association, the nation’s top banking advocacy group.

Brown, the top Senate Democrat overseeing the CFPB and a fierce critic of Mulvaney, said his comments reflect “the kind of ‘pay to play’ that understandably makes Americans furious with Washington, DC.”

“Mr. Mulvaney should resign, and The White House should quickly nominate a permanent CFPB Director with bipartisan support and a moral compass,” Brown said in a statement. “Banks and payday lenders already have armies of lobbyists on their sides — they don’t need one more.”

A spokesperson for Brown confirmed the senator is calling on Mulvaney to resign from both the Office of Management and Budget and CFPB.

Mulvaney spokesman John Czwartacki told The New York Times that “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.”

Mulvaney’s comments, a rare admission from a former lawmaker, stunned the political world. Several Democratic lawmakers and political groups said his comments reflected widespread corruption and cronyism within President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration MORE’s administration.

Even Republicans once aligned with Mulvaney expressed surprise at his remarks.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight Winners and losers in the border security deal GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration MORE (R-N.C.) on Wednesday said he wants Mulvaney to clarify comments that he had a “hierarchy” in his congressional office for meeting with constituents and lobbyists.

“I’ve got to call Mick to ask him for clarification on that,” Meadows told reporters. “I wouldn’t know if a lobbyist has given me a dime or 10 dimes.”

“If you have someone who comes in the door and it’s based on how much money they’ve given,” he added, “that’s a problem.”

Rep. Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeGOP dismisses polls showing losing battle on shutdown Bottom Line Dems hit GOP on health care with additional ObamaCare lawsuit vote MORE (R-Okla.), a House veteran, said he doesn't "have any doubts about [Mulvaney's] personal integrity" but said prioritizing meetings based on money was wrong.

"I don't believe in that. It's a mistake," Cole said. "You try to prioritize who you see based on who you represent and what their interests are, and you've only got so much time."

Even so, Cole insisted that Mulvaney "was not a lobbyist favorite as a member to put it mildly, and I think he always operates in a straightforward and ethical manner."

Updated at 3:20 p.m.