Mulvaney disclosed his decision to start the hedge fund, called Exegis Capital, in an interview on “Street Talk,” a podcast hosted by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
“Politics is going to be a very turbulent thing for the near future, and I think it creates opportunities for those who understand how Washington works to provide an advantage over everybody else,” he said on the podcast.
Mulvaney is hardly the first senior administration official to go into finance after leaving — although in Mulvaney’s case, he hasn’t really left. Bill Daley, who served as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, joined a hedge fund after leaving the White House. Former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is now president of the investment firm Warburg Pincus.
Mulvaney will lean on his experience serving as Trump’s Office of Management and Budget director and acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as well as his time on the House Financial Services Committee while he was representing a South Carolina district in Congress.
“Not a lot of folks get it,” Mulvaney said on the podcast. “Not a lot of folks understand, OK, this person has hired this staff to run this subcommittee, what is that going to mean for what kinds of legislation you’re seeing come out?”
Mulvaney and Wessel started raising money for the fund “in earnest about a month ago,” Wessel said on the podcast.
“We’re really kind of hitting the pavement,” he said. “A lot of meetings will be coming post-Labor Day when everybody gets back from their vacations.”
They plan to launch the fund on Jan. 1 regardless of the outcome of the presidential election, although Mulvaney said he still thinks Trump is “a slight favorite to win.”
It’s not clear how Mulvaney will divide his time between the hedge fund and promoting peace in Northern Ireland.
Special envoys are allowed to hold positions outside of government in certain cases, depending on the terms of their contract, according to a former senior State Department official. Mulvaney would likely have been expected to consult with State Department ethics experts, the former official said.
Mulvaney “is only partially limited in what professional activities he can pursue outside of government service,” according to the person familiar with Mulvaney’s situation. “The hedge fund activity is permitted.”
The State Department did not immediately answer questions on Friday about Mulvaney’s role. In the past the department has declined to divulge Mulvaney’s salary when asked by POLITICO.
Mulvaney and Wessel didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The State Department is supposed to have ethics safeguards that keep a person’s business interests away from their diplomacy. If Mulvaney wanted to start a hedge fund for Northern Ireland, that would probably raise red flags, according to the former senior State Department official.
One former special envoy who held outside jobs was Kurt Volker, who served as Trump’s special representative to Ukraine while also working as executive director of Arizona State University’s McCain Institute and as a strategic adviser to BGR Group, a Washington lobbying and public affairs firm.
Volker didn’t earn a salary for the special envoy role. He resigned last year after getting caught up in Democrats’ effort to impeach Trump.