Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

'Open and Flagrant Corruption': Mulvaney Admits to Bankers He Only Met With Lobbyists Who Gave Him Cash

"In a sane political system Mulvaney would be investigated if not fired immediately, but open and flagrant corruption are why the Trump administration exists."

Jake Johnson

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney testifies during a House Appropriations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, April 18, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Providing a remarkably blatant account of how Congress is basically "an extortion racket" and perhaps offering some insight into how he makes decisions at the CFPB, White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney told a gathering of bank executives on Tuesday that as a lawmaker he would only meet with lobbyists who gave him cash.

"A consummate grifter with a penchant for petty, penny-ante bullshit, Mick Mulvaney really is the embodiment of this whole administration."
—Kevin Kruse

"We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress," Mulvaney, who previously represented South Carolina in the House, told executives at an American Bankers Association conference in Washington. "If you're a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn't talk to you. If you're a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you."

Mulvaney's comment came as he was advising bankers on how to most effectively pursue their deregulatory agenda with Congress.

Influencing legislators, Mulvaney explained to the audience of ultra-wealthy financiers, is one of the "fundamental underpinnings of our representative democracy. And you have to continue to do it."

Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor and professor at University of California, Berkeley, offered a simple translation of Mulvaney's advice on how to sway lawmakers: "Bribe them with even more money."

Others also weighed in on social media, arguing that Mulvaney's speech lays bare the corruption at the heart of Washington, which is being drastically and openly expanded by the Trump administration.

Mulvaney, who was controversially placed in charge of the CFPB by President Donald Trump last year, is no stranger to campaign contributions from the financial sector—and many have argued that these contributions are currently driving his effort to dismantle the consumer bureau he now runs.

As the New York Times noted on Tuesday, Mulvaney raked in around $63,000 from payday lenders as a member of Congress. As acting head of the CFPB, Mulvaney has moved to kill probes into payday lenders accused of exploiting poor Americans.

"Mulvaney's comments Tuesday laid bare the conflicts of interest present in his running of the Obama-era financial regulator into the ground, while also raising obvious questions about his time as a legislator," Slate's Elliot Hannon observes. "The Trump administration generally, and Mulvaney specifically, have not done much to hide their disdain for the consumer protection mandate given the CFPB in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and have intermittently worked to roll back its authority where possible and sabotage it elsewhere."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

'Like a Blowtorch': Historic Dixie Fire 'Catastrophically' Destroys Greenville, California

"Our historical buildings, families homes, small businesses, and our children's schools are completely lost," said Plumas County Supervisor Kevin Goss.

Jessica Corbett ·


Markey, Levin, and Bowman Unveil Bill to 'Get Toxic Substances Out of Schools'

"We live in the richest country in the world. Every single kid should have a safe and healthy learning environment that facilitates their growth and unlocks their brilliance."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Stand With Us': Indigenous Line 3 Opponents Seek Allies to Fight Tar Sands Pipeline

"We need everyone who can to come to the frontlines in support. We need those who can't come here in person to amplify this message through every available channel."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Unimaginably Catastrophic': Researchers Fear Gulf Stream System Could Collapse

"Scientists say we cannot allow this to happen. People in power stand in our way."

Jessica Corbett ·


Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott Calls Another Special Session to Attack Voting Rights

Republicans "waging war on our right to vote failed to pass anti-democratic legislation in the regular session and the last special session," said one advocate. "Texans are ready to make sure they fail again."

Kenny Stancil ·