Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump loved to rev up his red-hat-wearing crowds with the refrain “Drain the swamp.” Those people knew that Washington is a marshy swamp filled with a corrupt, pay-to-play political class. Mr. Trump was going to fix that.

But about 15 months into the Trump presidency, the swamp is still teeming with corruption. Mick Mulvaney, the head of the Office of Management and Budget and temporary director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, highlighted that fact at a recent conference of the American Bankers Association.

Mr. Mulvaney is reportedly very close to President Trump. This week, in front of 1,300 bankers and lending officials in Washington, he said that when he was a South Carolina congressman, he would meet only with lobbyists who had contributed to his campaign. “We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress,” he said. “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.”

You could be an alligator sunning on a rock and not get swampier than that statement. It was precisely that political game that Mr. Trump endlessly lamented on the campaign trail. For example, he said, “Our system is also rigged by the donors giving hundreds of millions of dollars to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.” But Mr. Mulvaney apparently used his status as a congressman to get money from lobbyists who wanted his ear. If they didn’t give him money, they had no chance. If they did, their chances rose. That is pay-to-play if I’ve ever heard it, and it runs contrary to everything Mr. Trump has said about the swamp.

Well, not everything. Mr. Trump pointed out that he himself participated in the pay-to-play game, but from the perspective of a person seeking access: “As a businessman and a very substantial donor to very important people, when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.” But in his campaign rhetoric, he was going to get rid of the permanent political class — people like lobbyists and career politicians and those who got fat and rich off the government.

Trump administration officials were quick to point out that this was only part of Mr. Mulvaney’s quote. In the other part, Mr. Mulvaney said that he was willing to meet with constituents without regard to their donor status: “If you came from back home and sat in my lobby, I talked to you without exception, regardless of the financial contributions.”

I would congratulate the man, but that’s how America is supposed to work. As an elected official from the state of South Carolina, his salary was paid by the hard-earned taxes of people like those in his state. Since he works for “we the people,” it would be unseemly for him to do anything but take a meeting from the people back home. Bringing that up as a point of pride shows that he really doesn’t understand how self-government is supposed to work. He doesn’t get a gold star for not shaking down his constituents.

The problem with Mr. Mulvaney’s rhetoric is that it casts doubt on his actions as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He has consistently used his power to either close or significantly reduce the many investigations into payday loans and discriminatory lending. The payday loan industry happened to give Mr. Mulvaney approximately $32,000 during his last election cycle. Maybe it gave to him because its members know and agree with his beliefs. But there’s a chicken-and-egg problem here. If Mr. Mulvaney gets up in front of a bunch of bankers and openly admits he meets only with those with deep pockets, it taints his whole decision-making process.

He’s not faring any better at the Office of Management and Budget. Though Mr. Mulvaney has bragged about his fiscal conservatism, that apparently disappeared faster than Dr. Ronny Jackson’s sterling reputation.

“I will always be a budget hawk,” he said, before the Republicans and Democrats added $300 billion worth of spending over two years. His new budget will run a deficit close to $1 trillion for the next three fiscal years.

Please enjoy the rest of this article by Mark Meckler in the New York Times.

Image Credit: By Linda MacPhee-Cobb (alligator in swamp) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

About The Author

Mark Meckler

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at MarkMeckler.com, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.