Steve Mnuchin appeared to plug the Lego Batman movie at a Washington dinner
In a letter to Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub, Senator Ron Wyden said he was concerned that Secretary Mnuchin had violated his ethics agreement signed in January in his comments on Friday at the end of a live interview with the Axios news website.
Secretary Mnuchin had agreed to divest his interests in Ratpac-Dune Entertainment Holdings LLC within 120 days of his confirmation, and "not participate personally and substantially in any matter that has a direct and predictable effect on the financial interests of the entity" unless first obtaining a waiver.
RatPac-Dune, co-founded by Secretary Mnuchin with producer-director Brett Rattner and media billionaire Jamie Packer, has produced and financed a number of Hollywood hits in recent years, including Avatar, Mad Max: Fury Road and The Lego Batman Movie.
At the Axios event, Secretary Mnuchin was asked in a question from a reader for a film recommendation.
You should send all your kids to Lego Batman
"I'm not allowed to promote anything that 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," Secretary Mnuchin said.
"But you should send all your kids to 'Lego Batman.'"
The comment drew laughter from the audience at the Washington event.
The comment drew the ire of Senator Rob Wyden who wrote the the ethics director in complaint
Senator Wyden said the Finance Committee had received no notifications regarding Secretary Mnuchin's holdings in RatPac-Dune and assumed the Treasury chief still held that interest.
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"I am concerned that Secretary Mnuchin's comments, may be seen to have a predictable effect on the financial interests" of RatPac-Dune, Senator Wyden said in his letter.
In a statement, a Treasury spokesman said: "As his statement reflects, the Secretary clearly recognised that he generally may not promote private interests and specifically gave the legal disclosure that he was not promoting a movie, but answering a question he was asked directly."
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This comes after OGE recommended that action be taken against Kellyanne Conway for similar comments
The OGE recommended last month that the White House should consider disciplinary action against President Donald Trump's adviser Kellyanne Conway for her on-air comment on Fox News Channel promoting the clothing and jewellery line of Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump. Miss Conway said people "should go buy Ivanka's stuff".
The White House later told the ethics watchdog that Conway had acted "inadvertently" and without "nefarious motive or intent to benefit personally".