Mulvaney to lobbyists: To get what you you want, keep giving money to lawmakers until it happens. Look how well it worked with me!
Former Congressman – and now Trump Office of Budget and Management Director – Mick Mulvaney exploded the internet with a bombshell admission Wednesday night at a conference.
Speaking to a crowd of 1,300 bankers, he described how his office worked during his tenure in Congress:
“We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress. 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.”
Wow. Let’s break this down.
On its face, it’s a brazen admission of pay-to-play corruption: If you wanted an audience with Representative Mick Mulvaney – then Republican Congressman from South Carolina’s 5th district, constitutional representative of 662,829 people – you needed to give him a campaign contribution.
Not surprisingly, his comments have caused a massive uproar, including calls for resignation. The fact that Mulvaney’s Trump’s budget director has only tied the story into the cronyism and personal wealth-grubbing that’s defined the Trump administration. Headlines like “The Trump White House now just openly courting corruption,” put Mulvaney in line with ridiculously greedy characters like Scott Pruitt, Tom Price, and others.
What’s really crazy about this statement isn’t the admission of personal greed (that looks bad). It’s that he laid out exactly how pay-to-play works for a roomful of lobbyists – and encouraged it!
Mick Mulvaney gave lobbyists a master class on how influence Congress – and presented himself as Exhibit A.
Mulvaney was speaking to the American Banking Association, a lobbyist group of bankers and moneylenders whose main policy goal is to deregulate the financial industry. For years, they’re trying to do that by destroying the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the watchdog set up to prevent another financial crisis.
Since Trump promoted Mulvaney to helm the CFBP last year, he’s been relentless in his open attempting to defang and eventually destroy the agency.
Why? Critics have pointed to nearly $63,000 in campaign contributions that he’s received from the financial industry during his career as a Congressman as the motivation for his attacks on the agency. It’s not a stretch to believe some of those donors were in the room during his speech.
Last night, Mulvaney confirmed that the critics were right: When donors give me campaign contributions, he said, I act.
What’s worse is that Mulvaney seemed to be using his experience as a future roadmap for the lobbyists in the room. He expounded that the influencing policymakers–in this case, lobbying–was one of the “fundamental underpinnings of our representative democracy.” He finished by saying, “and you have to continue to do it.”
And it’s clear from Mulvaney’s comments that “do it” actually means “give money to campaigns until you get what you want.”
Mulvaney’s speech was essentially a “how-to” for getting your way in Congress – with himself as exhibit A. In short, he told a roomful of lobbyists, “To get the government to do what you want, keep giving money to lawmakers until it happens. Look how well it worked with me!”
Mulvaney joins a long line of Republicans who have admitted that it’s their campaign donors, not voters priorities, that are running the show. Here’s just a few:
- Trump on the campaign trail: “When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do”
- During the tax debate, Rep. Collins (R-NY) said Republicans had to get the tax bill done or big donors would close their wallets.
- Sen. Graham (R-SC) echoed the comments made by Collins around the tax bill
Mulvaney’s just next one in line who’s shameless enough to say it out loud.
So, where do we go from here?
Sure, Mick Mulvaney’s exposed himself as a grade-A scumbag who sold his office for campaign cash. But the outrage can’t stop with his head rolling.
Just this past Tuesday, voters in New York defeated a candidate who was backed by an almost laughably evil set of big donors. Hedge funds, wealthy real estate lobbyists, and Wal-Mart heirs spent nearly $2 million in an attempt to elect GOP candidate Julie Killian to a New York State Senate seat.
If she’d been elected, do you think that the pro-gentrification, anti-worker, anti-union policies of those donors would have become her agenda? (If you’re using Mulvaney’s formula, the answer is a yes)
But voters in New York saw through big money’s smokescreen – with our help! In the last week of the race, we intervened to make the discussion all about money in politics and Killian’s donors. We put on a huge rally calling out the influence of big money, and amplified the voices of regular voters, not lobbyists and donors, on social media.
And this past Tuesday, instead of letting the big donors win, voters in New York elected a candidate who’s committed to expanding early voting and passing campaign finance reform. It’s a huge victory – and a sign: when we make elections about fixing our corrupted democracy, we can win.
Unless we make the contamination of our political system a major campaign issue in the 2018 elections, the next Congress that gets elected won’t have any incentive to make the fixes we need.
That’s why we’re taking what we did in New York nationwide. From here until the elections, we’ll be calling out the big money interests that are trying to buy elections up and down the ballot.
But we can’t let this just pass in the 24-hour news cycle. We need everybody talking about money in politics, all of the time.
Don’t want to have to bring cash to your Congressperson’s to get an audience? Start by asking your candidates for Congress, Senate, State office answer the question: will you let money buy influence in your office?
Anybody who can’t answer that question correctly doesn’t deserve your vote.