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Mulvaney under fire for remarks about meeting with lobbyists as a lawmaker

April 25, 2018 - 2:50 pm

(WASHINGTON) -- Acting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Mick Mulvaney is under fire for remarks he delivered to a group of bankers Tuesday regarding access he granted to lobbyists as a congressman.

“We had a hierarchy in my office, in Congress," Mulvaney said during the American Bankers Association's Government Relations Summit. "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.”

Mulvaney, however, then added that constituents from his South Carolina home district would be granted access first and foremost.

“If you came from back home and sat in my lobby, I talk to you without exception, regardless of the financial contributions,” he said.

ABC News independently obtained a transcript of remarks reported first by the New York Times Tuesday evening.

The comments sparked controversy among Democrats and left-leaning groups, who have heavily scrutinized Mulvaney's activities since he was appointed by President Donald Trump as the independent watchdog agency's head in November of last year.

While in Congress, Mulvaney was a vocal opponent of the CFPB and advocated for its elimination, but while he has moved to scale back the agency's oversight functions deemed by conservatives as over burdensome, he has insisted he would not do so in a way that would violate the law.

Explaining the context of the remarks, Mulvaney’s senior advisor John Czwartacki told ABC News that those who have attacked Mulvaney's remarks are not considering the overall context.

“As you can see he was praising people who come to town to participate in the democratic process and saying how being from back home was more important than being a lobbyist or having contributed cash," Czwartacki said. "Very different than others seem to be sharing and saying.”

In his remarks to the room filled with around 1300 banking and lending industry executives, Mulvaney, who also serves as director of the Office of Management and Budget, also offered tips on how best to approach lawmakers to urge them how to execute agendas that would best benefit their interests.

“They will never know as much about your industry as you do,” Mulvaney says of lawmakers. “They will never know as much about your issues as you do. And they will not know that it is as important to you as it is until you tell them.”

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