(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Democrats call for investigation into Steven Mnuchin's "Lego Batman" movie plug

The treasury secretary told everyone to see a movie he produced while giving an interview in his official capacity


Taylor Link
March 28, 2017 11:57PM (UTC)

The top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee requested the government ethics watchdog on Monday to review recent comments made by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, which seemed to explicitly promote a film one of his companies produced, a possible ethics violation.

According to Reuters, Sen. Ron Wyden wrote a letter to the office of government ethics director, Walter Shaub, expressing concern that Mnuchin violated an ethics agreement he signed in January.

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In a live interview with the Axios.com last week, Mnuchin was asked cinema-related questions in honor of his old career as a producer. That's when he brazenly told his audience to go see a movie produced by Ratpac-Dune Entertainment Holdings LLC, a company partially owned by Mnuchin.

"I'm not allowed to promote anything that I'm involved in. So I just want to have the legal disclosure, you've asked me the question, and I am not promoting any product," Mnuchin said. "But you should send all your kids to 'Lego Batman.'"

Mnuchin had agreed to divest his interests in Ratpac-Dune Entertainment Holdings LLC within 120 days of his confirmation, and "not participate personally and substantially in any matter that has a direct and predictable effect on the financial interests of the entity" unless first obtaining a waiver.

On Monday, Wyden said the Finance Committee had not yet received a notification regarding Mnuchin's holdings in RatPac-Dune and so he assumed the Treasury secretary still held his interest.

"I am concerned that Sec. Mnuchin’s comments, may be seen to have a predictable effect on [Ratpac-Dune's] financial interests"  Wyden said in his letter.

In a statement, a Treasury spokesman said: "As his statement reflects, the Secretary clearly recognized that he generally may not promote private interests and specifically gave the legal disclosure that he was not promoting a movie, but answering a question he was asked directly."

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Taylor Link

Taylor Link is an assistant editor at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @taylorlink_

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