Mulvaney Staff Hid Appearance at Dark Money Political Event from Reporters

Revelation Comes After Sen. Elizabeth Warren Sends Letter Questioning Mulvaney About His Fundraising for Political Causes Despite His Unique Position as an Independent Financial Regulator


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, following news that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent CFPB Acting Director Mick Mulvaney a letter questioning his participation in a private meeting with Republican National Committee officials and donors despite his role as an independent financial regulator, consumer advocacy organization Allied Progress released related email communications obtained as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

According to the emails, when Mulvaney CFPB appointee Anthony Welcher was notified that Mulvaney would be participating in a June 9 political event for a dark money group set up by the Republican Attorneys General Association, he indicated the appearance was “closed” and “not open” to the press. When a CFPB communications official sought to clarify, asking, “so we don’t tell reporters about this one?,” a Welcher subordinate responded, “correct.”

Warren’s letter to Mulvaney notes, “by custom, top executive branch officials and independent agency heads – financial regulators in particular – steer well clear of campaign- or donor-related activity. Indeed, I could find no examples of your immediate predecessors at OMB or CFPB, or of any top Securities and Exchange Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or Federal Reserve official, meeting with top political party officials and campaign donors to provide advice and insight into upcoming elections.”

“As an independent financial regulator, Mick Mulvaney shouldn’t be participating in political events with Republican party officials and donors. His staff clearly see his behavior as problematic – why else would they hide it from reporters?” asked Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress.

He continued, “Mulvaney confessed that it was his policy as a congressman to give access to special interests that contributed to his political campaigns. His repeated involvement in these political events indicates you really can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW 

In 2018, Mick Mulvaney Came Under Fire for Meeting with Top Republican Donors While Serving as A Financial Regulator

In September 2018, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) Questioned Whether Mick Mulvaney Had Violated the Hatch Act While Appearing at A Republican Donor Event In New York City.

In September 2018, Sen. Warren Called Out Mulvaney For Potentially Violating the Hatch Act by Appearing at A Republican Donor Event In New York City. “Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) suggested… that Mick Mulvaney may have violated the Hatch Act, questioning his judgment in the latest of a series of stinging letters to the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Warren questioned Mulvaney about his appearance at a ‘closed-door event in New York City’ this month with Republican Party officials and donors, as reported by The New York Times. The Hatch Act bars executive branch officials from engaging in certain types of political activity.” [Katy O’Donnell, “Warren slams Mulvaney for donor meeting,” Politico Pro, 09/19/18]

Senator Warren Also Observed That Mulvaney’s Donor Meetings Were Unprecedented Among Financial Regulators. 

Senator Warren Said She “Could Find No Examples Of [Mulvaney’s] Immediate Predecessors at OMB or CFPB… Meeting with Top Political Party Officials and Campaign Donors to Provide Advice and Insight.” Warren’s letter noted “…by custom, top executive branch officials and independent agency heads – financial regulators in particular – steer well clear of campaign- or donor related activity. Indeed, I could find no examples of your immediate predecessors at OMB or CFPB, or any top Securities and Exchange Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or Federal Reserve official, meeting with top political party officials and campaign donors to provide advice and insight into upcoming elections.” [“Letter to Mick Mulvaney,” Senator Elizabeth Warren, 09/19/18] 

Despite Pledging His Independence as Acting CFPB Director, Mulvaney Continues to Attend Political Events and Fundraisers.

Mulvaney Came to The CFPB Pledging to Be as Independent as His Predecessor… 

November 2017: Mulvaney Assumes Control of the CFPB, Promising to Be as Independent as His Predecessor. “Mulvaney will lead the bureau while continuing to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget. He said he plans to spend three days a week at the CFPB and three at OMB while awaiting Trump’s nomination of a permanent candidate to take over the consumer watchdog.… Mulvaney said that as CFPB director, he would be as independent from Trump as Cordray was from former President Barack Obama.” [Jesse Hamilton, Elizabeth Dexheimer and Andrew M. Harris, “Mulvaney Has Vilified the CFPB. Now He’s Promising to Fix It,” Bloomberg, 09/12/17]

… But Since Becoming Acting Director, Mulvaney Has Continued to Speak at Political Fundraisers. 

April 2018: Mulvaney Headlines DC Fundraiser For New Jersey Congressman Tom Macarthur. “White House OMB Director Mick Mulvaney will headline a fundraiser in Washington for Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) on April 25, according to an invitation obtained by PI. It’s not every day a Cabinet member headlines a congressional fundraiser, but it’s not exactly uncommon, either.” [Theodoric Meyer and Marianne Levine, “Dave Urban will lobby for Georgetown,”Politico Influence, 04/18/18] 

September 2018: Mulvaney Speaks To “Donors” In Manhattan About Republican Chances in The Midterm Elections. “A senior White House official told donors Saturday that Republicans could win the midterm election despite President Trump’s unpopularity and that a lot would depend on the likability of individual candidates, implying this could cause Sen. Ted Cruz to lose his reelection bid in Texas. ‘You may hate the president, and there are a lot of people who do, but they certainly like the way the country is going,’ White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told a Republican National Committee conference in Manhattan, according to audio of his remarks obtained by The Washington Post. ‘If you figure out a way to subtract from that equation how they feel about the president, the numbers go up dramatically.’” [Josh Dawsey, “White House aide tells donors GOP can win midterms despite Trump’s unpopularity,”The Washington Post, 09/08/18] 

His Staff Has Tried to Hide His Attendance at these Events from Reporters

CFPB Staff Even Hid Mulvaney’s Appearance at One Political Event from Reporters Who Asked About His Schedule… 

June 2018: Mulvaney Speaks to The Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF) In Pinehurst, NC. [“Calendar for Mick Mulvaney,” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 06/09/18; accessed 09/12/18]

  • CFPB Staff Intentionally Hid Mulvaney’s Appearance at The Rule of Law Defense Fund Event from Reporters.On June 4, 2018, CFPB staff including Anthony Welcher and Zixta Martinez were discussing what to tell the press about Mick Mulvaney’s schedule over the next several days.
    • Associate Director for External Affairs Zixta Martinez flagged that Mulvaney was to speak at the Rule of Law Defense Fund’s 2018 Summer Meeting on June 9.
    • Policy Associate Director for External Affairs Anthony Welcher flagged that the RLDF event was “closed.”
    • CFPB communications staffer then asked, “So we won’t tell reporters about this one?”
    • Zixta Martinez replied, “Correct.” [E-Mail Exchange Between Welcher, Martinez and Howard, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Obtained Through FOIA), 06/04/18]

…That Secret Event Mulvaney Attended Was Hosted by A Dark Money Group Founded by the Republican Attorneys General Association – It Has Opposed The CFPB.

The Rule of Law Defense Fund Has Helped Organize Legal Challenges to Federal Policy from Republican State Attorneys General. “Challenging Federal Regulations: Established in 2014 by the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), RLDF describes itself as ‘a forum for Republican attorneys general to study, discuss, and engage on important policy affecting the states and their citizens…’ [and has] has helped organize… legal challenges from state attorneys general.” [Andrew Perez and Margaret Sessa-Hawkins, “Conservative Group Led By EPA Chief Pruitt Received Dark Money To Battle Environmental Regulations,” Fast Company, 06/07/17]

RLDF “allows companies benefiting from the actions of… Republican attorneys general to make anonymous donations, in unlimited amounts.” In 2013, “…the [Republican Attorneys General Association] was starting to pull in so much money under Mr. Pruitt’s leadership that it decided to break free from its partnership with the Republican State Leadership Committee, a group that represents state elected officials. Within months, the association also set up the Rule of Law Defense Fund, yet another legal entity that allows companies benefiting from the actions of Mr. Pruitt and other Republican attorneys general to make anonymous donations, in unlimited amounts. Fund-raising skyrocketed.” [Eric Lipton, “Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Attorneys General,” The New York Times, 12/06/14]

RLDF’s Former President Once Circulated A Document “Summarizing Arguments Against A Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Rule Requiring Payday Lenders to Verify Whether Borrowers Can Pay Back Their Loans.” “Emails sent in 2016 by RLDF’s former President Samantha Dravis, who currently leads the EPA’s policy office, shed some light on what gets shared in RAGA’s Briefing Room. Examples include… A document summarizing arguments against a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule requiring payday lenders to verify whether borrowers can pay back their loans.” [Andrew Perez and Lee Fang, “GOP Law Enforcement Chiefs Invited Donors to Help Set Policy Via Secret Bulletin Board,”The Intercept, 02/12/18]

  • “The Republican Attorneys General Association frequently directs officials working for GOP attorneys general to review files posted on the file-sharing website before participating in conference calls hosted by RAGA’s nonprofit policy arm, the Rule of Law Defense Fund. The association works to get Republicans elected to the top law enforcement job at the state level. The Briefing Room is hosted by RLDF on the virtual cloud website, box.com.” [Andrew Perez and Lee Fang, “GOP Law Enforcement Chiefs Invited Donors to Help Set Policy Via Secret Bulletin Board,”The Intercept, 02/12/18]

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