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 MulvaneyPoll: Cruz up 9 in Texas Senate race Financial policymakers must be suffering from amnesia On The Money: Broad coalition unites against Trump tariffs | Senate confirms new IRS chief | Median household income rose for third straight year in 2017 | Jamie Dimon's brief battle with Trump MORE should resign over comments suggesting he gave preferential treatment to lobbyists who had donated to his campaigns.

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOvernight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan group wants to lift Medicaid restriction on substance abuse treatment New polling shows Brown, DeWine with leads in Ohio 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 TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE’s administration.

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

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsGraham to renew call for second special counsel Hillicon Valley: Sanders finds perfect target in Amazon | Cyberattacks are new fear 17 years after 9/11 | Firm outs alleged British Airways hackers | Trump to target election interference with sanctions | Apple creating portal for police data requests Graham: Obama, not Trump, politicized DOJ and FBI 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 ColeOvernight Health Care: House GOP blocks Trump-backed drug pricing provision | Maryland sues to protect ObamaCare | Insurers offer help to hurricane-impacted areas House GOP blocks Trump-supported drug pricing provision from spending bill Congress reaches deal to fund government through Dec. 7, preventing shutdown 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.