Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s recent comments appearing to promote The Lego Batman Movie has prompted a Democratic senator to call on the government ethics watchdog to investigate as a potential ethics violation.
Ron Wyden, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, asked the Office of Government Ethics to review Mnuchin’s comments he made during an on-stage interview with Axios in Washington on Friday, Reuters reports.
When asked for a movie recommendation, Mnuchin said: “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,” adding, “But you should send all your kids to Lego Batman.”
RatPac-Dune Entertainment Holdings, which Mnuchin co-founded, produced the movie. Mnuchin had agreed to divest his interests from RatPac-Dune within 120 days of his Treasury Secretary confirmation.
In a letter the ethics office, Wyden said that the Senate committee hadn’t been notified of any changes to Mnuchin’s RatPac-Dune holdings. “I am concerned that Sec. Mnuchin’s comments, may be seen to have a predictable effect on the financial interests,” of the company, he said.
A spokesperson from the Treasury defended Mnuchin, saying “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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