Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin has declined to answer questions from a Democratic senator about his views on financial regulations, sanctions and his time as head of a bank accused of unfair foreclosure practices.
Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the top Democrat on the banking committee, sent a letter on Dec. 21 asking Mnuchin to detail his position by Jan. 6 on issues that are under the committee's purview, including fair lending laws and foreclosure-prevention programs. Mnuchin doesn't plan to respond to the senator in writing, though several weeks ago he requested a meeting with Brown, who hasn't yet accepted, according to Mnuchin's spokeswoman Tara Bradshaw.
"Mnuchin will work with Senator Brown within the protocol of the finance committee — and will not be providing written answers in advance of a deadline yet to be established by the finance committee," Bradshaw told Bloomberg on Tuesday in an e-mailed reply to questions.
"Senator Brown wants to have a substantive, productive conversation with Mr. Mnuchin, not just a quick handshake and hello," according to an e-mailed comment from Brown's office on Tuesday.
Mnuchin, 54, will face a public hearing with Senate Finance Committee members and must also respond to follow-up questions in writing before they vote on his nomination. Brown also sits on that committee.
While Mnuchin can count on the support of the Republican majority in the Senate for confirmation, Democrats have signaled a tough fight. The former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner profited from the 2007-2008 housing market crash when he and a group of investors bought a failed mortgage lender that was later renamed OneWest Bank. It's being investigated over allegations of unfair foreclosure practices.
Mnuchin has submitted his three most recent years of tax returns and a questionnaire to the Senate, according to a finance committee spokeswoman. While tax returns may remain confidential, the financial disclosure documents and parts of the questionnaire will be made public. The committee is still waiting for government ethics forms and financial disclosures to be filed before the vetting process can begin.