In response to a report indicating that acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney began discussions about becoming President of the University of South Carolina while he was serving as both Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director and Interim Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director, Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently called for an investigation into whether Mulvaney violated federal ethics laws governing negotiations over post-government employment.
Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that Mulvaney, a congressman from South Carolina for six years before joining the Trump administration, initiated a discussion with a senior official at the university late last year about the position, which is scheduled to become open this summer. Despite the fact that Mulvaney already had two other jobs as OMB Director and Interim CFPB Director, he reportedly “was still interested in the presidency of his home state university.”
On Tuesday, Sen. Warren sent a letter addressed to the Designated Agency Ethics Officials (DAEO) at the CFPB and OMB. Warren wrote, “I am writing to request information about Director Mulvaney’s reported job negotiations with the University of South Carolina, and to make sure that he is following important ethics laws intended to prevent conflicts of interest and protect American taxpayers.”
Warren continued, “Under the Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, Mr. Mulvaney ‘may not directly negotiate or have any agreement of future employment’ with an outside entity unless he discloses the negotiations with the relevant agency’s ethics office. Furthermore, the law requires Mr. Mulvaney to recuse himself ‘whether there is a conflict of interest, or appearance of a conflict of interest,’ and to notify the agency ethics office of that recusal.
“The STOCK Act was passed to prevent conflicts of interest that would allow senior government officials to enrich themselves, their past employers, or any future employers at the expense of American taxpayers. In particular, the provisions above are designed to stop officials from using their positions to benefit potential employers in order to increase the likelihood of obtaining post-government employment.”
According to Warren, the University of South Carolina is receiving nearly $200 million in federal grants and contracts during Fiscal Year 2018-2019. As OMB Director, Mulvaney is ultimately responsible for producing the federal budget for the president.
“Mr. Mulvaney is one of the top officials in the Trump Administration,” wrote Warren. “His compliance with the STOCK Act is crucial to protecting American taxpayers and maintaining public confidence in the integrity of the federal government.”
Warren concluded her letter by calling for an investigation into Mulvaney’s alleged negotiations with the University of South Carolina, whether he disclosed that information to the proper ethics offices, and potential violations of the STOCK Act. Warren requested a response from the OMB and CFPB ethics officials no later than January 29, 2019.