WASHINGTON — Acting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Mick Mulvaney should be investigated for potential Hatch Act violations following his recent comments about meetings with lobbyists, Senate Democrats said Tuesday.

In remarks to an American Bankers Association conference last week, Mulvaney suggested, that when he was a congressman, who contributed to his campaigns was a factor in determining which lobbyists could meet with him.

“We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress. If you were a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you,” he said. “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 talked to you without exception — regardless of the financial contributions.”

Mick Mulvaney
Acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney has been sharply criticized for the comments, which some interpreted as an attempt to advise bankers on how to lobby the government. Bloomberg News

Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Catherine Cortez-Masto, D-Nev., said in a letter to the U.S. Special Counsel’s office that Mulvaney’s statements may run afoul of the 1939 law that prohibits employees in the executive branch from soliciting political contributions from any person.

“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 senators said. “We respectfully request that the U.S. Office of Special Counsel conduct a thorough investigation of this matter.”

Mulvaney, who also serves as President Trump’s budget director, has been sharply criticized for the comments, which some interpreted as an attempt to advise bankers on how to lobby the government. Other Democratic lawmakers have blasted the remarks, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, the architect of the CFPB, asked the bureau's ethics official for details on whether Mulvaney is recused from matters relating to firms that contributed to his congressional campaigns.

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