Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined forces with Sen. Elizabeth Warren to challenge Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin over his role in the bankruptcy of Sears that resulted in thousands of workers being laid off and stores closing.
The New York Democrat and the 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful from Massachusetts released a video Thursday to highlight a letter they sent to Mnuchin questioning his involvement as a Sears board member and his ties to billionaire hedge fund mogul Eddie Lampert.
Lampert, Mnuchin’s former Yale University roommate, was the retailer’s chairman and CEO when Sears Holding Corp. filed for bankruptcy last year.
Mnuchin was on the board until December 2016.
“He is a walking example of what happens when rich and powerful people put other rich and powerful people into power,” Ocasio-Cortez said of Mnuchin.
“We are deeply concerned by the financial engineering and potentially illegal activity that took place at Sears Holding Corporation while you served on the company’s board,” the two lawmakers write in their letter.
“In addition, we are concerned that, as Treasury Secretary, you are in position to take actions that benefit Sears’ shareholders and owners at the expense of workers and taxpayers,” they continued.
Sears Holding filed a lawsuit last month against Lampert and board members, including Mnuchin, alleging that they stripped Sears of “billions of dollars as it collapsed into bankruptcy” and developed deals that enriched Lampert, his hedge fund and other insiders.
“Talk about conflicts, Lampert even sold Sears real estate to himself, and then rented that real estate back to Sears at prices he could set,” Warren says in the video.
In a tweet, Ocasio-Cortez said she and Warren want to get to the bottom of Mnuchin’s involvement.
”With GoT out of the way, let’s talk Sec. Steve Mnuchin’s receipts. Mnuchin went on the Sears board as his college roommate served as CEO,” she said in the posting. “Together, they fired a *quarter million people* in a debt scheme that looks awfully self-dealing.”
The Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.