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As Democrats in the Senate prepare for a fight over President-Elect Donald Trump’s cabinet picks, an outside group is launching a new effort to arm the party’s elected leaders and public advocates with information on them.
The Trump Transparency Project, launched Monday by the group Allied Progress, provides opposition research and ready-made talking points on Trump’s economic picks, beginning with the president-elect's pick to lead the Treasury Department, Steven Mnuchin, his choice for Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, and Ross’ would-be deputy, Todd Ricketts.
Allied Progress is planning a paid advertising campaign and rapid response operation that will target constituents of senators who sit on key committees or who will otherwise play central roles in upcoming confirmation fights.
“Steven Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross, and Todd Ricketts represent the Wall Street insiders and billionaire class that candidate Trump attacked relentlessly throughout the campaign. Ahead of their confirmation hearings, Allied Progress will work to make sure the press and public know who these individuals are and the damage they would do to our economy if confirmed,” said Allied Progress Executive Director Karl Frisch.
It’s one of several new efforts from outside Democratic groups geared to towards stymying some of Trump’s nominees, joining others like American Bridge, the opposition research super PAC, and the political arm of the Center for American Progress, a Democratic think tank.
While Democrats do not have enough votes in the Senate to stop Trump’s cabinet picks on their own, they are hopeful that some will disqualify themselves when unflattering new information about their past comes to light, especially given the relatively light vetting Trump’s team appears to have done on some nominees. Democrats will need three Republicans to join them in the Senate to stop one of Trump’s nominees.
Mnuchin is emerging as a top target for Senate Democrats, who want to use confirmation hearings for the former Goldman Sachs executive to both tarnish Trump’s populist image and position themselves as the true defenders of the little guy in Washington.
Of particular focus will be Mnuchin’s ownership of a bank that foreclosed on thousands of homeowners during the financial crisis. Allied Progress notes a judge in one foreclosure case called the bank’s practices "harsh, repugnant, shocking and repulsive."
Ross, meanwhile, comes in for criticism over his work as an an investment banker, fines paid to the Securities and Exchange Council, and ties to Russia. Ricketts is a major Republican donor and heir to his father's banking empire.