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Ethics Committee Orders Markwayne Mullin to Pay Back $40,000

Oklahoma Republican instructed to pay back family business

Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., must pay back income received from his family business following a House Ethics investigation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., must pay back income received from his family business following a House Ethics investigation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House Ethics Committee has called for Rep. Markwayne Mullin to return $40,000 to his family business, Mullin West, following a review that concluded the money was paid out to him in a manner that is out of compliance with House rules and the committee’s recommendations.

The report released Friday by the House Ethics panel determined that Mullin made a “good faith” effort to seek informal guidance on issues related to his family businesses, but he didn’t take action on the guidance he received. The committee determined that an accounting error led Mullin to “inadvertently fail to fully follow part of the Committee’s advice,” according to the report.

On the advice of the committee, Mullin transferred ownership of a company to his wife, but he did not end an automatic payment process. That led Mullin to receive $40,000 from the company in 2013. That is the money the panel says he must pay back.

“The new guidance in this report only proves that you can no longer be a citizen legislator.  You have to be a career politician to serve in Washington, D.C.,” said Mullin in a statement. “If I don’t fit the bill for a citizen legislator as a plumber, rancher, and someone who had never held a political office before, then who does?”

The Office of Congressional Ethics first referred the Mullin case to the House Ethics Committee in December 2013 over allegations that Mullin personally endorsed goods and services provided by companies that he and his family owned and that he received outside earned income, in excess of the applicable limits, from those companies.

At age 20 Mullin took over his father’s plumbing company and built it into a small-business empire that he promoted on his own home repair radio show.  During his 2012 campaign for office, Mullin was the subject of a complaint, which was ultimately dismissed, with the Federal Election Commission. In that case, the FEC looked into whether Mullin made an “excessive number” of redesignations and reattributions of campaign contributions and used resources from his plumbing business to produce and promote campaign videos and print advertisements.  

Earlier this week, another question arose about Mullin’s financials. He held stock in the same Australian biotechnology company, Innate Immunotherapeutics that led to Rep. Chris Collins’ recent arrest. According to his financial disclosures, he owned and/or sold Innate stock within the past two years.

Paul Fontelo contributed to this report. 

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