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Trump's Treasury Secretary Might Have 'Jokingly' Broken Ethics Rules

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said during an interview he wasn't allowed to endorse any movies he was invested in — then endorsed one anyway.
Posted at 7:24 PM, Mar 28, 2017

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden has a question for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin: Is it OK to flout federal ethics rules if you make a joke about it?

During an interview, Axios' Mike Allen asked Mnuchin, "What's a movie that we should see?"

Mnuchin responded, "Well, I'm not allowed to promote anything 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."

So far, so good — Mnuchin seems to have a textbook definition of the ethics laws. And then ...

Mnuchin went on to say, "But you should send all your kids to 'Lego Batman.'" The audience laughed.

The most recent Lego movie was produced in part by Mnuchin's company, Ratpac-Dune Entertainment. And IMDb lists Mnuchin as an executive producer on the film.

Mnuchin's spokesman described the moment as "light-hearted" and non-promotional. Wyden called it "a blatant disregard and disrespect to the office he serves."

Wyden sent a letter to the Office of Government Ethics, but it might not do much good.

The last time the ethics office had to reprimand an administration official for promoting products, there was no disciplinary action taken by the White House.

During a "Fox and Friends" interview in February, White House counsel Kellyanne Conway said of Ivanka Trump's branded products, "I'm going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody."