Democrats are already attempting to put GOP senators representing swing states in a vice over President-elect Donald Trump's selection for secretary of the treasury, an indication on where the party might focus its opposition once confirmation hearings commence.
A liberal group, Allied Progress, launched a pair of new ads against Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Dean Heller of Nevada on Wednesday targeting Trump's selection of Steve Mnuchin to serve as the country's top economic official. Mnuchin, a former partner at Goldman Sachs, was the finance chairman for Trump's presidential campaign.
The spots, which have six-figure cable television buys behind them, note that Mnuchin made "millions after his bank foreclosed on homeowners and discriminated against Latinos."
The campaign is meant to highlight Mnuchin's time at OneWest, a bank that gained a reputation for foreclosing on tens of thousands of homeowners during the housing crisis. The ads also seize on a federal complaint filed in November 2016 that OneWest discriminated against minorities.
"Mnuchin made a killing off the foreclosure crisis and these states were among the hardest hit. And it's not just that he ran a bank at the time, his bank was seen as a bad actor during the crisis," said Mike Czin, a spokesman for Allied Progress.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin
Steven Mnuchin, President-elect Trump's nominee for Treasury secretary, testifies during his Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building, January 19, 2017.
(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin sits with Vanessa Trump (R), wife of Donald Trump Jr, before a swearing-in ceremony for senior staff at the White House in Washington, DC January 22, 2017.
Incoming Trump administration Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin departs after working a simulated crisis scenario during transition meetings at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 13, 2017.
Producer Steve Bing (L) and Honoree Steven Mnuchin recipient of the Philanthropic Leadership Award attend The Kaleidoscope Ball - Designing The Future benefitting the UCLA Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA at Beverly Hills Hotel on April 17, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California.
(Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for BWR)
Steven Mnuchin, Treasury secretary nominee for U.S. President Donald Trump, right, attends a swearing in ceremony of White House senior staff in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. Trump today mocked protesters who gathered for large demonstrations across the U.S. and the world on Saturday to signal discontent with his leadership, but later offered a more conciliatory tone, saying he recognized such marches as a hallmark of our democracy.
(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Steve Mnuchin and Lousie Linton arrive at the Premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Jupiter Ascending' at TCL Chinese Theatre on February 2, 2015 in Hollywood, California.
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Heather Mnuchin and Steve Mnuchin attend The Art Show Gala to Benefit The Henry Street Settlement at The Seventh Regiment Armory on February 23, 2005 in New York City.
(Photo by Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin attends the inaugural parade of U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, January 20, 2017. Donald Trump was sworn in earlier as the 45th President of the United States.
Donald Trumps' Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin arrives on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States.
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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The Senate Finance Committee has yet to set a date for Mnuchin's hearings, but the nominee has been on Capitol Hill making the rounds with lawmakers.
On Wednesday, Mnuchin huddled with Flake, who tweeted that he spoke with the treasury secretary-designate about cross-border commerce with Mexico. A spokesman for Flake also said the two discussed the national debt and federal spending. A spokesman for Heller did not respond to a request for comment.
Both Heller and Flake face potential competitive re-election races in 2018. Heller will compete in a state carried by Hillary Clinton and is the last remaining GOPer in the federal delegation. A survey by Republican pollster Remington Research Group found that Flake would face a difficult primary if he's challenged. The survey placed Flake's favorability among Republican primary voters at just 30 percent.
Republicans have 52 senators in this Congress. They'll need 51 votes to confirm Mnuchin.
But because of his direct ties to Wall Street, Democrats see Mnuchin as a ripe target to land claims of hypocrisy against Trump, who during his campaign focused much of his populist rhetoric against big banks.