Trump's budget chief made a stunning comment that confirmed everyone's worst perceptions of lobbying's influence in Washington

  • Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director and interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, told a large gathering of banking industry executives on Tuesday to influence lawmakers with campaign donations.
  • Mulvaney, a former congressman, said that he would only meet with lobbyists who donated to his campaign.
  • “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you,” he said.

Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director and controversial interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, encouraged a large gathering of banking industry executives on Tuesday to use campaign donations to influence lawmakers and added that, as a congressman, he would only meet with lobbyists who donated to him.

“We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress,” Mulvaney, a former South Carolina lawmaker, told 1,300 officials at the American Bankers Association conference in Washington, according to The New York Times. “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”

Mulvaney, who is rumoured to be first in line to replace White House chief of staff John Kelly, encouraged the industry executives to use their money to influence lawmakers, and even argued the practice is one of the “fundamental underpinnings of our representative democracy.”

“And you have to continue to do it,” he said, adding that he always met with his own South Carolina constituents, regardless of whether they had donated to his campaign.

Mulvaney has come under fire from Democrats and consumer advocates who say he is effectively crippling the CFPB, which is charged with regulating financial institutions, including mortgage and credit card companies. Over the last four months, Mulvaney has worked aggressively to halt or reverse the CFPB’s enforcement of consumer protection laws, freezing all new investigations.

Mulvaney has been criticised for loosening regulations on the very industries that have supported his political career, including payday lenders accused of predatory practices. (Mulvaney received almost $US63,000 from the payday lending industry for his congressional campaigns, according to The Times.)

Democrats and other critics of Mulvaney accused the top White House official of engaging in criminal conduct by encouraging pay for play.

“This is a crime and he should be fired immediately. This isn’t small government. This is organised crime,” tweetedJason Kander, a former Democratic Senate candidate from Missouri and voting rights activist.

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.