news 1 week ago

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Grilled Over Interest in Wife’s Production Company

Variety — Ted Johnson

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was asked in a Senate hearing about a continued potential interest in Stormchaser Films, the production company founded by his wife, Louise Linton.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, said at a hearing on Thursday that the concern is that “there has been an exchange of an asset for a loan instead of a divestment.” He was citing a report from the Center for Public Integrity that Mnuchin sold his interest in Stormchaser Partners for between $1 million and $2 million in May 2017, but his latest financial disclosure showed that he is still owed around that same amount from the production company.

Wyden also told Mnuchin that he was “trying to make sense of your 2017 uncertified ethics form, and the government has been not able to certify it yet.”

But Mnuchin, who was a prolific film financier before being confirmed as treasury secretary in 2017, said he had gotten clearance from an ethics official in the Treasury Department.

“My forms were filed timely and they were certified by the career-designated ethics official in Treasury, who is the person I consult with on a regular basis,” Mnuchin told the committee.

But a separate entity in the executive branch, the Office of Government Ethics, has not yet certified Mnuchin’s disclosure of his 2017 personal finances. As he was facing confirmation, Mnuchin agreed to divest his industry holdings, including his stake in RatPac-Dune Entertainment, which helped finance a long list of Warner Bros. titles, including “Lego Batman,” “Suicide Squad,” and “Wonder Woman.”

According to its website, Stormchaser was founded in 2012 as an all-female company, and its projects have included “The Midnight Man,” “6 Below,” and “Intruder.” The action comedy “Me, You, Madness” is in production, and is written and directed by Linton, who also stars.

Mnuchin said the Treasury Department is working with the Office of Government Ethics on finalizing their certification.

“I have been advised by people in Treasury that I am fully in compliance and I have no ethical issue,” he said.

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.