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.
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."