In the 2016 election cycle, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin donated to only one Democratic Senate candidate.
But it wasn’t Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, the only Democrat who voted to confirm him for the position Monday night and who is up for re-election next year. It was freshman Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who has her own history with the new Cabinet official and voted against Mnuchin’s nomination.
Mnuchin gave Harris’ campaign $2,000 last year, according to records from the Federal Election Commission, making her the only Democrat who ran on the national level to receive money from him that cycle.
Tyrone Gayle, Harris’ press secretary, questioned the idea that a campaign contribution would influence her vote.
“Sen. Harris thoroughly evaluates each nominee based on their record and confirmation hearing — nothing else,” Gayle said in an email. “Sen. Harris believes Secretary Mnuchin’s record of profiting off of the misfortune of thousands of families who lost their homes during the U.S. mortgage meltdown made him unqualified to manage our nation’s finances and advocate for working people.”
Harris came under scrutiny for her relationship to Mnuchin after it was revealed in a story by The Intercept that Harris, as California attorney general, had declined to file a civil enforcement action against OneWest, the bank for which Mnuchin served as CEO, over foreclosures.
Harris told The Hill after the story emerged that her office “went and followed the facts” about OneWest. She also said the conduct of the state attorney general’s office was “a very separate point” from how a senator should approach Mnuchin.
Mnuchin served as finance chairman for President Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016. Documents show he gave $25,000 to Team Ryan, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s joint fundraising committee, and $425,000 to Trump’s joint fundraising account, Trump Victory.
Mnuchin also donated extensively to state Republican Party committees in New Jersey, West Virginia, Arkansas, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia, and Connecticut.
During the last election cycle, Mnuchin also gave to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who still had leftover campaign debt from his aborted presidential run, and to Democrat Michael Wildes, the former mayor of Englewood, New Jersey, who served as first lady Melania Trump’s immigration lawyer.
Like the president, Mnuchin had previously given extensively to Democrats.
He donated to Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer in 1998, 1999 and 2002. He gave to former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s two Senate campaigns, and to former President Barack Obama’s 2004 Senate run. On the presidential level, he gave to both Obama and Clinton’s presidential campaigns in 2007, and former Sen. John Edwards and former Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaigns.
Outside of Schumer and Harris, the only other Democratic senator who voted on Mnuchin’s nomination and also received a donation from him was Maria Cantwell. Washington’s junior senator, who voted “no” Monday night, received a $1,000 donation from him in 2006.