President-elect Donald Trump reportedly is planning to tap his campaign finance chairman to be treasury secretary with the announcement coming as soon as Wednesday.
The New York Times reported Trump will nominate financier Steven Terner Mnuchin, 53, to head the Treasury Department, despite his lack of government experience and his ties to Wall Street. If approved by the Senate, he would become the third Goldman Sachs alumnus to serve in the post after Henry R. Paulson (George W. Bush) and Robert E. Rubin (Bill Clinton).
Mnuchin, whose fortune is estimated to exceed $40 million, began his career at Goldman Sachs where his father was a partner, eventually becoming a partner himself, and then created his own hedge fund, Dune Capital Management, in 2002 before becoming a major player in the movie industry where he bankrolled such hits as “X-Men” and “Avatar.”
He was part of a group in 2009 that bought defunct mortgage lender IndyMac, changing its name to OneWest. The lender, which was sold to CIT, the country’s biggest small business lender, in 2015, was accused of improperly foreclosing on some borrowers and failing to meet lending targets in minority neighborhoods.
Americans for Financial Reform, a nonpartisan, nonprofit coalition of more than 200 groups, reacted to the possible nomination, saying Mnuchin made himself “enormously wealthy by cashing in on the country's financial collapse.”
“He purchased a bailed-out bank for pennies on the dollar and then aggressively foreclosed on tens of thousands of families. Anyone concerned about Wall Street billionaires rigging the economy should be terrified by the prospect of a Treasury Secretary Mnuchin," the group said in a statement.
Mnuchin was an early Trump supporter and has said he agrees with the president-elect’s priorities. He could play a major role in shaping the administration’s economic policies as well as foreign policy on such issues as the Iran nuclear deal and relations with Cuba.
Mnuchin has been married twice and currently is engaged to actress Louise Linton.
Trump expended much of his campaign rhetoric railing against Goldman Sachs, accusing the investment banking firm of robbing the working class and criticizing Democrat Hillary Clinton for accepting speaking fees. During the primaries, he criticized rival Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for taking a loan from Goldman Sachs to fund his campaign.
In addition to Mnuchin, Trump has ties to other Goldman Sachs figures. His choice for White House strategist, Breitbart head Stephen Bannon, started out in Goldman’s mergers and acquisitions division. Former Goldman Vice President of Private Wealth Management Anthony Scaramucci emerged as a key Trump fundraiser.