Mick Mulvaney, former Congressman and current head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, gave a speech to a group of prominent bankers on Tuesday. During it, he said:
“What you do here matters. We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress. If you were a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you were a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you. If you came from back home and sat in my lobby, I talked to you without exception regardless of the financial contributions.”
This is, undeniably, distasteful. For that reason, there has been an effective blackout on the matter from most of the media that leans Republican.
Meanwhile, the Democrat sites and Democrat poltiicians have been screaming for Mulvaney’s job. An example is Sherrod Brown. From Cleveland.com:
“Deciding who you will meet with based on campaign contributions is the kind of ‘pay to play’ that understandably makes Americans furious,” said a statement from Brown. “Mr. Mulvaney should resign, and the White House should quickly nominate a permanent CFPB Director with bipartisan support and a moral compass. Banks and payday lenders already have armies of lobbyists on their sides a they don’t need one more.”
The democrat-leaning media have been more cautious in their reporting. An example was Jake Tapper on CNN, who today interviewed Elizabeth Warren and allowed her to categorize it as “pay to play”, although he did push the obvious question of how common this is in all of Congress… a question which Warren conveniently dodged: “If he is, he’s describing widespread corruption… and there is widespread corruption in this place.” Which effectively says, “Yes, it’s common, everyone does it, please don’t press me to answer if I specifically do it.”
The simple fact is that what Mulvaney said was not corrupt. It was unpleasant because it shows potential bias. It would have been corrupt if he said that getting money would guarantee a lobbyist would be heard, but that’s not what he said; he said he might talk to them. Moreover, he specifically stated that he would talk to any of his constituents, every time, independent of whether they’d donated money.
That’s not only how Washington works, that’s how most businesses work. A business will listen to its customers and potential customers; it will pay attention to other businesses with whom it may develop a financial interest; it will ignore businesses with whom it has no common ground.
Republicans aren’t bothering to explain this, likely because they don’t trust a base that cheered when Trump decried “pay to play” to be able to differentiate between buying influence and buying a potential audience. Democrats aren’t bothering because they see a line of attack and are certain their audience will carefully not examine the practices of Democrats, past or present.
By both parties, the voting public is being disrespected.