In August, CREW sent a Freedom of Information Act request for legal opinions on Treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s Vanguard investment in a Treasury fund, which could violate the law. CREW sued the Treasury Department over its failure to turn over records in response to the request.
Mnuchin reported a new investment worth between $500,000 and $1 million in the Vanguard Treasury Money Market Fund on his 2018 and 2019 financial disclosure reports. The Fund’s prospectus states that 80% of the Fund’s assets will be invested in the U.S. Treasury, which Mnuchin oversees. The Treasury Secretary is prohibited from being involved in buying or selling financial obligations of a state or the U.S. government. Congress enacted the statute to prevent Treasury officials from speculating in public funds. If Mnuchin is in violation of this statute, there could be severe consequences ranging from a fine to removal from office.
The requested records would shed light on whether Secretary Mnuchin violated a law aimed directly at the Treasury Secretary by putting himself in a position to benefit from the activities of the Treasury. Americans have a right to know whether Mnuchin was aware of the legal issues and whether he ignored ethics advice when making this investment.