Credit Where No Credit Is Due: A Washington Story

Back in 2010, when Mick Mulvaney defeated long-time Congressman John Spratt, one of the critiques Mulvaney and his critics levied against Spratt was that he had passed only 4 laws out of the 104 bills he had sponsored. Six years later, it must sting that Mulvaney is now 0-for-64.

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Is Mick Mulvaney as disappointed in not improving upon this record as those of us he represents?

To help save face when confronted when that fact, Mulvaney has been quick to point to the 2015 Improper Federal Payments Coordination Act as his major legislative achievement. It’s a pretty commonsense piece of legislation, expanding access to a Federal database on which contractors should and should not be paid. Connecting disparate sources of data together to create benefits for everyone is sort of what government is there for, despite the cries against “big government” that have become commonplace among Mulvaney’s associates.

Three months after the Senate version of this bill (S. 614) was introduced in February 2015, Mulvaney and Democrat Cheri Bustos, along with 4 other original sponsors, introduced a bill (H.R. 2320) that was identical, word-for-word. The House bill sat, unseen outside of a committee. Meanwhile, the Senate version, sponsored by Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Tom Carper of Delaware, passed by unanimous consent.

Senators Johnson (left) and Carper (right), who may or may not recognize Mick Mulvaney if they saw him in the Capitol.
Senators Johnson (left) and Carper (right), who may or may not recognize Mick Mulvaney if they saw him in the Capitol.

When the Senate sent their rubber-stamped bill to the House of Representatives, Mulvaney was permitted to introduce it on the House floor.

Mulvaney’s further contribution amounted to introducing the already-passed Senate bill to the House (where it passed by people shouting out Aye or Nay, like most non-controversial bills) and talking about it for no more than 20 minutes. The highlight of his brief speech offers a rich lesson in irony:

“So, Mr. Speaker, I just want to thank Mrs. Bustos, Mr. Connolly, Mr. Carter of Georgia, and Mr. Westmoreland in the House for helping bring this bill to the floor. Also, I want to thank Senator Carper from Delaware and Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin for shepherding it through the Senate.

Mick Mulvaney deflecting credit. (Congressional Record, December 7, 2015)
Mick Mulvaney deflecting credit. (Congressional Record, December 7, 2015)

This is their bill that we are taking. I guess that is another inevitability, that, if the Senate has the same bill as the House does, the Senate gets all the credit. But sometimes it is interesting to see what you can actually accomplish around here, Mr. Speaker, if you don’t worry about who gets the credit.”

Now, a month away from an election, Mick Mulvaney is trying to take all the credit, pointing to this piece of legislation when asked by a constituent to “name one bill he’s proposed and seen passed in Washington.” It’s almost sad, but that’s all he’s got.

Mick Mulvaney claiming credit (Facebook, October 7, 2016).

 

Impressive Hypocrisy, Part Two

Mick Mulvaney has been pretty upset about the cash payments the current administration made to Iran. He’s sat in judgement on the issue in Congressional hearings. He’s written about them on his Facebook page, scolded the administration about them during stump appearances, and complained about them on TV.

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Reasonable people can disagree on the Iran deal. They can also disagree about the timing and purpose of the cash payments made to Iran.

Those same reasonable people would probably agree that if you spend a lot of time complaining about those cash payments, it would probably be a good idea to vote for the resolution condemning them.

Mick Mulvaney didn’t. He didn’t even bother to show up.

Out of 435 members of Congress, only 14 missed this vote. Maybe Mick was having a nice lunch with Nancy Pelosi instead?
Out of 435 members of Congress, only 14 missed this vote. Maybe Mick was having a nice lunch with Nancy Pelosi instead?

He made time to talk about it on his official Facebook several times: September 6, September 7, September 8.

He made time to talk about it on Fox Business Network.

He made time to talk about being on Fox Business Network on his official Facebook too.

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But, when it came time to actually represent the people of the 5th district of South Carolina and vote, he had something else to do.

All the other South Carolina Congressmen showed up to represent the people who voted for them. Everybody but Mick.
All the other South Carolina Congressmen showed up to represent the people who voted for them. Everybody but Mick.

It kind of makes you wonder if he’ll bother showing up when it’s time to make your voice heard in Washington, doesn’t it?

Mick Loves Trump: Because Principles Don’t Matter

If you can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep, Mick Mulvaney’s full throated endorsement of a Donald Trump presidency condemns him better than I ever could.

Mick Mulvaney would like to see this man in the White House.
Mick Mulvaney would like to see this man in the White House.

There is some courage in admitting an opinion like his, that the most obnoxious and least qualified candidate in the history of the Republic should hold its highest office. Others play footsie with the idea of supporting “the nominee,” in the interest of being able to deny it when such support inevitably becomes a liability someday, but Mick Mulvaney will never be able to hide from his support. I can at least congratulate him for holding such a bothersome idea so forthrightly, even though it may well affect his future political ambitions.

Trump was the first choice of less than 32% of GOP primary voters in York County and fewer than 34% in Lancaster County.
Trump was the first choice of less than 32% of GOP primary voters in York County and fewer than 34% in Lancaster County.

Support for Trump has little to do with politics. There are plenty of old-fashioned, Chamber of Commerce Republicans who condemn his antics, puzzle over his “policies,” and loathe his backstory. Even some extremely conservative folks have real problems with his lack of experience, his coddling of extreme elements, and his ability to seemingly hold two conflicting policy positions at once. Some of them will vote for him anyway, in the interest of defeating his opponent. I won’t say I agree, but at least their opinions of Trump match their more deeply held beliefs.

Mick Mulvaney’s do not. He opposes nearly everything Donald Trump seems to stand for, yet he stands with Trump anyway.

In a January 2016 radio interview, Mulvaney made a sensible statement: “I’m not a big fan of Vladimir Putin, I don’t know who would be.”

Compare that with the man whom he fervently supports for the White House.

What do Vladimir Putin and Mick Mulvaney have in common? Both would love to see Donald Trump elevated to the highest office in the United States.
What do Vladimir Putin and Mick Mulvaney have in common? Both would love to see Donald Trump elevated to the highest office in the United States.

On the same radio program, just a month later, Mick Mulvaney was asked about his ideal Presidential candidate. He responded, sensibly, “I want someone who can have an intelligent conversation on the issues.”

Then why does he support the guy about whom Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says “it’s pretty obvious he doesn’t know a lot about the issues?”

Mick Mulvaney often names the debt and budget his number one issue. Fox Business reported that Trump’s plans would increase the national debt by $11.5 trillion. I suppose the debt isn’t as near and dear to Mulvaney’s heart as you might think.

So if Donald Trump conflicts with so many of Mick Mulvaney’s deeply held (cough) principles, why is he supporting him? Over a year ago, Mulvaney claimed he “has a very tough time taking Trump seriously.” What could have possibly changed his mind?

Well, he says Trump would make his job “more fun and entertaining.” That’s important. Wouldn’t want the guy getting bored while he makes $174,000 for working 111 days a year. I wonder if his expectation that “it’s going to be kind of fun” having Donald Trump at the top of his ticket has turned out as he expected.

Many of Mulvaney’s Republican supporters (or former supporters) have found it hard to believe that such a “principled conservative” would support a guy like Donald Trump. “I support Mr. Trump, and have made that explicitly clear here dozens of times,” Mulvaney told people on his Facebook page. He brushed off the many concerns about Trump’s offensive rhetoric or his coddling of racist elements, saying “If I thought Trump was a bigot, misogynist or an outright idiot, I wouldn’t be supporting him. But I don’t think that. I am sorry that you apparently do.”

Mick Mulvaney has stressed the importance of GOP outreach to the Hispanic community. I'm sure this is precisely what he had in mind.
Mick Mulvaney has stressed the importance of GOP outreach to the Hispanic community. I’m sure this is not exactly what he had in mind.

Left unsaid: what Mulvaney thinks might qualify a person as a bigot, misogynist, or an outright idiot, but the rest of America seems to have a pretty good idea. 

Mick Mulvaney and Donald Trump have apparently been a mutual admiration society since before this campaign even started. Trump doled out $1000 to Mulvaney’s campaign in 2014. 

Perhaps the most telling quote is this one: “A lot of the stuff I want to accomplish would require Donald Trump winning the presidency.” It’s pretty obvious that main thing Mulvaney wants to accomplish is getting himself re-elected. It’s an open question as to whether the people of South Carolina will see his affection for Donald Trump as a help or a hindrance towards that goal.

Impressive Hypocrisy, Part One

Is it hypocritical for a guy who believes banks should be unregulated to be among those who sit in judgement when they break a law or do something unethical?

From Mick Mulvaney’s Facebook page, January 2016:

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“I have NEVER pushed fro (sic) more regulations on banking, and in fact spend a lot of my time doing the exact opposite.” — Mick Mulvaney

Why regulate when you can investigate? It’s makes a lot more news when you grill CEOs on live TV than when you actually pass laws to protect citizens from their abuses in the first place.

BREAKING: We will shake our fists, then do nothing.
BREAKING: We will shake our fists, then do nothing.

Mick Mulvaney, One Million Bucks, and Five Minutes Wasted

The House Financial Services Committee hosted a tense hearing today, grilling the CEO of Wells Fargo on the recent (and not-so-recent) revelation that customers were ripped off when bank employees opened accounts without their knowledge, among a host of other abuses dating back nearly a decade.

The people up front are the people that elected Mick Mulvaney, but the people in the wagon are the ones that paid for his campaign. (Politico.com)
The people up front are the people that elected Mick Mulvaney, but the people in the wagon are the ones that paid for his campaign. (Politico.com)

Mick Mulvaney used his allotted time in front of the CEO of Wells Fargo to:

1) Talk about himself

2) Ask one question: “Does this organization reflect you?”

3) Encourage his colleagues not to regulate banks on the premise that “you can’t fully regulate bad actors.”

Unrelated: Mick Mulvaney gets more campaign contributions from the financial sector than any other, and it’s not even close.

This graphic from opensecrets.org divides Mick Mulvaney's campaign contributions in 2015-16 up by industry. It won't be hard to figure out where the big banks are.
This graphic from opensecrets.org divides Mick Mulvaney’s campaign contributions in 2015-16 up by industry. It won’t be hard to figure out where the big banks are.

Over the course of his Congressional career, since the 2010 election cycle, Mulvaney has been the recipient of well over a million dollars ($1,201,974) from the financial sector.

I’m sure no one reading this believes there is a connection between a million bucks in campaign contributions and a belief that banks don’t need laws and oversight to keep them from ripping people off. If we can trust banks to behave well out of the goodness of their hearts, shouldn’t we trust politicians to do the same?

On Believing What People Do: Some Statistics

Mick Mulvaney has another ad out now, offering lip service about “believing what people do, not what they say.” He seems to either believe he’s achieved something in Congress or is intent on buffaloing people into thinking he has.

If you want to put more stock in what people do than what they say, Mick Mulvaney’s record is clear, and it’s not a record you’d make an ad about.

Goose egg.
Goose egg.

Mulvaney has never offered a single bill that became law. Not one. Zero.

Zippo.
Zippo.

Mulvaney has never offered a single bill that even came to a floor vote, quite the trick in a chamber that has been in Republican control since he got elected!

Self-explanatory.
Self-explanatory.

He hasn’t done much better on amendments. Since 2012, he’s proposed 18 amendments. Only 3 of them passed. If you counted up all the votes on his amendments, No votes lead Yes votes by a more than 2 to 1 (4715 to 2039) margin. Keep in mind, the Republicans have controlled the House the entire time.

Swing and a miss for Mick Mulvaney! (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Swing and a miss for Mick Mulvaney! (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Mulvaney has introduced 63 bills. Among those, 44, or more than 2/3 of them, didn’t get a single co-sponsor. Not one person among the 434 other members of the House wanted to put their name on them. It’s hard to be that unpopular. On the bills where he did manage to talk a colleague into co-sponsoring, Republican co-sponsors led Democratic co-sponsors 386 to 26, marking him as one of the biggest partisans in the House.

He’s allergic to compromise, even with members of his own party. Asked in May 2012 about finding common ground, Mulvaney’s words were plain: “Does it concern me that they’re negotiating with the Democrats? They’ve been doing that for the last 16 months. Does it concern me? Yes.”

It's terribly concerning that these guys negotiated with people who disagreed with them. We ended up with the oldest active Constitution in the world because of it.
It’s terribly concerning that these guys negotiated with people who disagreed with them. We ended up with the oldest active Constitution in the world because of it.

The American system of government was founded upon compromise. Mulvaney’s inability to compromise not only makes him ineffective, it also doesn’t win any friends in Congress. This is evident the way Mulvaney hands out plenty of blame for his utter lack of achievement — to former Speaker John Boehner, to Democrats, to his fellow Republican lawmakers — to shield himself from the truth: he’s never gotten a single thing done in Congress.

The two achievements he bragged about in his ad were a balanced budget bill and a term limit bill. Both ideas sound good, and might even make for good policy, but neither bill merited enough acceptance with his colleagues to even get a vote. If you’re tallying under “do” and “say,” this is clearly a whole lot more of the second category.

If term limits were such a passion of his, you’d never know it as he seeks his 4th consecutive term. Then again, he sure didn’t mind limiting his time in the SC House and SC Senate when there was a bigger prize to chase.

If Taxpayers Don’t Pay, Someone Else Does

Mick Mulvaney’s first TV ads have hit the air, and his main bragging point seems to be that he’s never taken a taxpayer funded trip. When that’s your biggest accomplishment as a Congressman, color me unimpressed.

Taxpayer funded trips may sound wasteful, but most of them are not sending members of Congress to Disneyland and Bora Bora. Instead, they’re fact-finding and diplomatic missions, intended to create overseas markets for our products, bolster alliances, or obtain new insight on important issues. Insight and diplomacy don’t rank highly on Mick Mulvaney’s list of talents, so his disinterest in improving them shouldn’t come as a great surprise.

Here's FDR taking one of those taxpayer-funded trips again.
Here’s FDR taking one of those taxpayer-funded trips again.

The most important reason trips for members of Congress are funded by the people they represent is to ensure that when they do travel, they don’t do it on the tab of special interests or those that would line their campaign coffers. These so-called “junkets” still happen, and Mulvaney hasn’t minded helping himself to them.

Take, for instance, his June 2014 trip to sunny Santa Barbara. With highs averaging 71 degrees that time of year, it’s a lovely place to spend a long weekend. There’s gourmet cuisine, sunshine, sailing, sandy beaches — and more rich people than almost anywhere else in America. Forbes reports that 11 of the 400 richest Americans (all billionaires) live in Santa Barbara, 11 times more than the number of billionaires in the entire state of South Carolina. According to CNNMoney, only three towns in the entire country have a larger percentage of million-dollar homes than Santa Barbara.

Why take a taxpayer-funded trip where you could learn something when you could hang out here?
Why take a taxpayer-funded trip where you could learn something when you could hang out here?

Why was Mulvaney there? Finding facts? Finding wealthy investors who want to bring jobs to South Carolina? Finding new markets for South Carolina products or learning to be a more effective representative?

Nope. Raising campaign cash from lobbyists and the PACs (political action committees) they work for.

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Fundraising firm Gula Graham advertised the presence of Mick Mulvaney and three other members of Congress during their “Santa Barbara Getaway,” June 2-5, 2014. To attend, and get some face time, Gula Graham had a “suggested contribution” to Mulvaney for Congress of $2,500 per PAC or $1,500 per individual. For those attending, they reserved a block of rooms at a Four Seasons Resort, The Biltmore Santa Barbara, “at a special rate of $485 per night (+ taxes & fees).” I’m sure you’re as disappointed as I am to have missed out on that bargain.

It may not be home, but the Four Seasons in Santa Barbara will do for a long weekend.
It may not be home, but the Four Seasons in Santa Barbara will do for a long weekend.
According to TripAdvisor, the spa at the Four Seasons Biltmore Santa Barbara is the best in the country. Hope Mick and his lobbyist friends made time for at least one massage.
According to TripAdvisor, the spa at the Four Seasons Biltmore Santa Barbara is the best in the country. Hope Mick and his lobbyist friends made time for at least one massage.

It doesn’t look like too many individuals forked over $1,500 to hang out with Mr. Mulvaney in the Southern California sunshine: the only $1,500 donation reported in his July 2014 FEC filing came from a man from Rock Hill. Corporate PACs lined up to give $2500 during this time though. There were 18 different donations of exactly $2500 (to say nothing of the many donations of higher and lower amounts) in May and June 2014 from PACs representing the following trade groups and companies:

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

American Resort Development Association

Association for Advanced Life Underwriting

CME Group, Inc.

Commercial Real Estate Finance Council

Duke Energy Corporation

Exxon Mobil Corporation

Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America

J.P. Morgan Chase

Liberty Mutual Insurance Company

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company

Morgan Stanley

National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts

National Restaurant Association

Property Casualty Insurers Association of America

Grant Thornton LLP

Title Industry PAC

UBS Americas Inc.

Mulvaney collected more than $114,000 in special interest PAC money in that quarter of 2014 alone, compared to just over $9000 in money from actual people. We don’t know how many lobbyists joined him at the Four Seasons. Hopefully those that did had fun.

Any trip to Santa Barbara is incomplete without taking in a polo match.
Any trip to Santa Barbara is incomplete without taking in a polo match.

Invitations to fundraising junkets like this one are usually closely controlled by the DC firms who get paid to raise campaign cash, so it’s something of a miracle that news about the Santa Barbara Getaway was even leaked out. Mulvaney travels a good deal (he was recently spotted by a friend on a flight from CLT to Dallas wearing some remarkably garish golf pants that Mulvaney called “my pajamas”). If voters aren’t paying for his trips, it’s fair to wonder: who is?

Not For Sale

It seems that Mr. Mulvaney, or at least his staff, has discovered this website. That’s fine, as nothing I say on here is untrue, as they undoubtedly know. While I’ve been contacted by various people who have known Mr. Mulvaney over the years, and offered all manner of rumors, insults, and innuendo, I traffic in facts, I deal with documents, and I report the truth. This is not a gossip site. Should evidence turn up to back one claim or other, I am happy to investigate it and, if it falls under the purview of truth, I’ll put it here.

Their apparent frustration with this site turned up in an unusual way yesterday. First, a company that buys and sells Internet domain names was contacted, and someone attempted to purchase this domain for cash. I declined the rather generous offer. Soon thereafter, a visitor came to the site from a computer operating on the servers of the US House of Representatives, followed by another with the same service provider. This is not the first time the site had been visited from the US House of Representatives, but it is the first time they saw fit to send me a message.

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First they ran a search on the site for the word “FRAN,” apparently looking for references to Mr. Mulvaney’s opponent. They will find nothing here, because this site is not about Mr. Mulvaney’s opponent. He has his own site. This site is about Mr. Mulvaney.

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Finding no incidences of the word “FRAN,” the visitors from the US House of Representatives next searched for a misspelled word (CORAD), then followed it up with the word they were attempting: COWARD. They followed that almost instantly with another search term: CARPETBAGGER. The message was clear (though sending me an email seems easier).

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I am neither a coward nor a carpetbagger. Nor am I easily intimidated. Mr. Mulvaney’s team will not be able to purchase this website, nor will they silence my voice. This is the way democracies work: honest criticism, discussion of facts, and presentation of evidence. Their efforts at intimidation do not speak well of a man who purports to be a leader. Needless to say, I was of the opinion that his leadership qualities were lacking already.

Mick Mulvaney: Mailing It In

While the Federal government plays a huge role in nearly everyone’s life (on April 15 and all year round), there’s really only one government agency most of us are served by every single day: the United States Postal Service.
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The USPS has its issues. Unlike most private (or public) entities, it has been required to fully fund its pension and health care obligations annually since 2006, causing a financial strain that commentators have nearly uniformly called unnecessary. A bipartisan bill aimed at fixing the Post Office’s wobbly finances garnered 230 co-sponsors in 2011, representing more than half the members of the House. It died on the vine. Mick Mulvaney was not among its supporters.

The Post Office’s inability to maintain or expand its services hits residents of York and Lancaster counties particularly hard. The Fort Mill post office was constructed in 1989, when 5,283 people lived in town. Today, nearly three times as many people do. The population of Fort Mill township has similarly grown, from 17,000 in 1990 to more than 36,000 in 2010. Tega Cay’s growth has paralleled Fort Mill’s, from barely 3000 residents in 1990 to nearly 9000 today. Indian Land has continued to grow as well, as US 521 has become a main corridor into Charlotte.

The Fort Mill Post Office. Not seen: thousands of new residents pouring into Fort Mill, Tega Cay, and Indian Land every year.
The Fort Mill Post Office. Not seen: thousands of new residents pouring into Fort Mill, Tega Cay, and Indian Land every year.

Through all of this growth, the little Fort Mill post office continues to serve not only Fort Mill, but also Tega Cay and Indian Land. The employees and letter carries of the Fort Mill post office can only strain to keep up with the growing demand for services, while the residents of York and Lancaster county watch service levels decline. The residents of Indian Land, Mulvaney’s current “home town,” have it particularly rough, with some folks living no less than 13 miles from their post office. It seems some of Mick Mulvaney’s Indian Land neighbors in zip code 29707 have complained to him and not seen any results.

This is particularly hard to stomach considering the Congressman not only lives in an underserved community, but also sits on the Congressional committee and subcommittee that oversees the Post Office!

If you're embarrassed by your performance on the Oversight Committee, think how your constituents must feel. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
If you’re embarrassed by your performance on the Oversight Committee, think how your constituents must feel. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

There was an informative hearing on Postal Service Reform, held before the House Oversight Committee on May 11, 2016. If you know Congressman Mulvaney, you may want to pass along the link to the testimony, since he didn’t actually show up to the hearing. He did find time to be on Fox Business the next day, though.

Mick Mulvaney’s lack of interest in the post office is clear from his home page, which helpfully points out that “the prices for many mail services went up on June 30, 2002.” While true, the price of a stamp has also gone up 8 TIMES since 2002 and went DOWN in April 2016. When was the last time this guy bought a stamp? If it was in June 2002, he didn’t even live in South Carolina yet then.

Mulvaney’s lack of interest in helping his constituents’ access to their local post office doesn’t seem to stem from the fact that he’s out of touch or doesn’t care. Instead, his “small government” politics conflict with the idea of a Federally-run Postal Service (even one that receives no taxpayer money). He’d rather see the Postal Service, like the VA and other vital government services, privatized.

The political action committee of one of the Post Office’s principal competitors, United Parcel Service, donated $1000 ($500 + $500) to Mulvaney’s re-election campaign in 2012. They’re apparently better at finding their allies in Congress than they are at finding your front door.

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A New Dodge Challenger: Imported from Texas

With no less than four Dodge dealerships in his district, you’d think Mick Mulvaney would use his desire for a brand new black sports car as a great chance to support a local business, make a new friend, and shake a few hands.

If you thought that, you’d be wrong.

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The 375 HP Hemi will get you to out of town John Birch Society meetings in a hurry.

Passing over Wilson Chrysler Jeep Dodge in WinnsboroStateline Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Fort Mill, Carolina Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram in Lugoff, and Sumter Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Sumter, Mulvaney instead told a crowd at the John Birch Society meeting in Columbia this past July that he “bought a car from a friend of mine in Congress.” Referring to him only as “Roger out in Texas,” the seller was Texas Congressman Roger Williams, who is currently being investigated by the House Ethics Committee for using “his position to private benefit himself and a car dealership he owns in Weatherford, Texas,” according to Politico.com. That car dealership, in Mulvaney’s own words, gave him “a pretty good deal.”

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Roger Williams knows better than to look a gift horse in the mouth when a Congressman asks to buy a car and have it shipped to his home 1100 miles away.

In researching Congressman Mulvaney, it’s become clear that getting a good deal for himself and helping out his friends is typically more important to him than helping out his constituents.