The man who brought you “Suicide Squad” could soon be making a cameo on the lower right-hand corner of your paper currency.
According to Fox Business Network, Donald Trump has been eyeing campaign finance chairman and Hollywood producer Steven Mnuchin to be his treasury secretary if he wins the presidential race on Tuesday.
An unnamed source “with direct knowledge of the matter,” told FBN that Mnuchin is Trump’s top choice for the job. Other people being considered are former Bear Stearns economist David Malpass, CNBC’s Larry Kudlow and Steve Moore of the Heritage Foundation.
If true, the news will be the icing on Mnuchin’s already sweet cake of a year. Despite some rather harsh reviews, “Suicide Squad” became this past summer’s biggest blockbusters, raking in an eye-popping $750 million at the box office.
He’s also proven to be a prolific fundraiser. Barely two months into his job as Trump’s main money man, Mnuchin shocked political strategists when he managed to raise $80 million for the month of July, just shy of Hillary Clinton’s $90 million for the same time period. It was a significant uptick from the $51 million the campaign raised the previous month and came at a time when Trump’s campaign was all but broke.
Those figures continued to improve even as Trump faced an onslaught of negative press amid sexual assault allegations in recent weeks. Trump hauled in a record breaking $100 million in September, much of it from small donations, according to the campaign.
But as TheWrap previously reported, Mnuchin comes with baggage of his own. When he became Trump’s lead fundraiser in May, news outlets revisited reports that he pocketed money stolen by Bernie Madoff and once supported Hillary Clinton — and that Relativity Media, the studio behind “The Fighter,” once accused his bank of “violating bankruptcy procedures” and delaying a crucial movie’s release.
The founder of RatPac-Dune Entertainment, which has produced some of Hollywood’s most successful movies including the “X-Men” franchise and “Avatar,” Mnuchin started as an investment banker before setting his sights on Hollywood.
He worked at Goldman Sachs for 17 years, leaving in late 2002 at age 39 with a reported $46 million stake in the bank, according to the Wall Street Journal. He then accepted a job with business magnet George Soros, one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest donors. He is currently the chairman and CEO of Dune Capital Management, a private investment firm.
Interestingly, he didn’t always get along with Trump. According to The New York Times, “Mr. Trump has attacked both Mr. Mnuchin’s investment company — suing it in 2008 over a building deal — as well as Goldman Sachs, the Democratic Party and other institutions Mr. Mnuchin has supported.”
Mnuchin, who recently executive produced “The Accountant” with Ben Affleck and “Sully” starring Tom Hanks, had somewhat of a bumpy start in Hollywood. In October 2014, Relativity Media announced that Mnuchin would be joining founder Ryan Kavanaugh as co-chairman of the company’s board.
But according to the New York Post, “The once-cozy relationship between Relativity Media and backer OneWest Bank … turned hostile after the California lender swept up nearly $50 million from the studio leading up to its bankruptcy — and then hit up the studio’s international distributors for even more money.” The Post cited a letter and an email obtained by the paper that said Relativity explicitly blamed the bank, founded by Mnuchin, “for violating bankruptcy procedures and for delaying the release of a movie recently considered to be the studio’s savior.”
Mnuchin has also been accused of profiting of the 2008 financial crisis by throwing old people and minorities out on the street. In December 2008, Mnuchin bought out IndyMac Bank, a collapsed Pasadena lender. He and a group of investors got it for pennies on the dollar, changed its name to OneWest, and went on to rake in billions of dollars by foreclosing on homes, The New Republic said.
Under Mnuchin’s leadership, OneWest “routinely jumped to foreclosure rather than pursue options to keep borrowers in their homes; used fabricated and ‘robo-signed’ documents to secure the evictions; and had a particular talent for dispossessing the homes of senior citizens and people of color,” the New Republic contended. Maps obtained by the magazine showed that of the 36,382 OneWest California foreclosures between 2009 and 2015, 68 percent occurred in zip codes with a majority non-white population.
The New Republic said that as part of a standard deal it made on transactions for failed banks during the financial crisis, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation agreed to cover all losses above the first 20 percent on loan defaults. That essentially lowered the foreclosure risk, and OneWest, protected by the government and taxpayer dollars, went on to rake in $3 billion in profits from 2009 to 2014. Not bad if you consider the initial investment: $1.65 billion. Meanwhile, the FDIC wound up losing $13 billion on the IndyMac deal, on top of the $2.4 billion it owed OneWest for its foreclosure costs, the New Republic said.
It all would have gone great for Mnuchin if it weren’t for the Occupy movement in Los Angeles. After it learned of the foreclosures, activists hit Mnuchin’s $26 million Bel Air estate to protest the eviction of a woman forced from her home for being two weeks late on one mortgage payment. The activists threatened to move the evicted resident’s furniture into Mnuchin’s mansion. Eventually 20 police officers and a helicopter were called in to restore order.
Mnuchin grew up in one of the wealthiest families in New York City. His father, Robert Mnuchin, worked for Goldman Sachs for 30 years before opening a posh art gallery that sold Kandinskys and de Koonings. But that didn’t stop his son from pocketing $3.2 million from Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme victims. According to Bloomberg, Mnuchin Jr. withdrew the cash from his mother’s account right before the scheme blew up. It was money that was essentially stolen from Madoff’s investors, who lost everything. Madoff’s victims sued Mnuchin in an attempt to recoup some of their savings, but the suit was dropped because of time restrictions.
Neither the Trump campaign nor Mnuchin responded to TheWrap’s request for comment. But in an August interview with TheWrap, Mnuchin dismissed most of the negative stories about him as old news. He also took issue with reports that his relationship with Trump had been strained in the past.
“I’ve known Donald Trump for 15 years,” Mnuchin said. “He wouldn’t have asked me if he didn’t have confidence in me and I wouldn’t have accepted on the spot if I didn’t have a lot of confidence in him. We’ve done business together.”