Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Office of Government Ethics he should not have encouraged people to see a movie that he produced and that he will “exercise greater caution” going forward.
On March 24, the movie producer-turned Treasury chief was asked by an interviewer about films, given his industry background.
Mnuchin began his reply by saying he isn’t permitted to promote anything he is involved in, and “I am not promoting any product.” However, he added: “But you should send all your kids to ‘Lego Batman.’”
Read: Mnuchin — after admitting he wasn’t allowed to do so — plugs ‘Lego Batman’.
Mnuchin’s comment raised questions about a possible violation of federal ethics law, with at least one senator — Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon — writing to the ethics office’s director about the subject.
Also read: Mnuchin may have violated ethics rule with ‘Lego Batman’ comment, senator says.
Friday, Mnuchin wrote OGE director Walter Shaub stating that while he included a disclaimer, his words “could reasonably have been interpreted to encourage the questioner to see a film with which I was associated.”
“I should not have made that statement,” Mnuchin wrote. See text of Mnuchin’s letter.
Shaub, in his own letter back to Wyden, accepted the apology.
“The primary purpose of disciplinary action is to deter future misconduct, both on the apart of an individual employee and on the part of others. Secretary Mnuchin’s enclosed letter appears to achieve that purpose,” Shaub wrote. “OGE intends to give Secretary Mnuchin the opportunity to make good on the pledge he makes in the enclosed letter.”
The Treasury secretary is the founder of Ratpac-Dune Entertainment, and was an executive producer of “The Lego Batman Movie.” He has pledged to divest his stake in the motion-picture production company within 120 days of his Feb. 13 confirmation by the Senate.