Many Americans got a lesson in federal ethics after White House counselor Kellyanne Conway pushed Ivanka Trump’s clothing line on live TV. New Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin implied today that he’s aware of this ethical no-no, right before he advised families to go see LEGO Batman, one of many movies on which he’s got a producer credit.
In his new role as a Trump administration employee, Mnuchin is now prohibited under federal regulations from using public office for private gain. That means that the former movie producer, with a slew of producing credits listed on IMDB — including Sully, Keanu, How to Be Single, Mad Max: Fury Road, American Sniper, and The LEGO Movie, just to name a few — was supposed to give up his business ties in Hollywood. That includes plugging new movies he was involved with, something he seemed to do today.
“What’s a movie we should see?” Axios executive editor Mike Allen asked Mnuchin toward the end of an interview at a Friday morning event.
“Well, I’m not allowed to promote anything that I’m involved in,” Mnuchin replied, “so I just want to have the legal disclosure that you’ve asked me the question and I am not promoting any product. But you should send all your kids to LEGO Batman,” he finished — with a nod and a smile — to a few loud (shocked?) laughs from the crowd.
“But you know, I’m leaving the movie business now that I’m in the treasury,” he adds, after Allen asks about his role producing Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
We’ve reached out to the Treasury for comment on Mnuchin’s remarks, as well as claims that they may violate federal ethics rules, and will update this post if we hear back.
Mnuchin and President Trump aren’t the only members of the new administration with lucrative ties to the entertainment industry. White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has long held a stake in Seinfeld, and continues to make money every time reruns of the wildly popular sitcom are aired.