Mullin discusses sale of family business, opponent claims ethics issue after sale – FOX23 News


TULSA, Okla. – Before being elected to Congress, Oklahomans heard the phrase “Hi, I’m Markwayne Mullin with Mullin Plumbing, the Red Rooter” on their screens for years as future Congressman Markwayne Mullin promoted the family’s plumbing business on TV and online.

Whether it was plumbing or HVAC issues, Mullin started the ads the same way every time. And during the holidays, he even included his wife and children.

However, the famous line from The Red Rooter ads stopped once Mullin was elected to Congress in 2013 and hadn’t been heard in years, but last spring, for nearly four months, Oklahomans heard that famous phrase again. They didn’t see Mullin’s face, but they heard his voice during an entire 30-second commercial that aired on multiple stations in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

For the average Oklahoman, Mullin was still in charge of Mullin Plumbing, and as he launched his U.S. Senate bid, he continued to talk about being both a business owner and a congressman. However, in 2021 Mullin quietly sold Mullin Plumbing to private equity firm CenterOak Partners in Dallas, Texas.

“It was my wife’s and I’s livelihood,” Mullin told FOX23 in late October. “We did not take this decision lightly. It’s hard. It was a very difficult decision. It was also an emotional decision. This is something my wife and I shed tears over.

Mullin said his plumbing business was never officially offered for sale on the open market and he was not looking for a buyer. He intended to remain a businessman long into the future, regardless of his political fortunes.

However, Mullin said, after saying “no” so many times, CenterOak Partners made him and his wife an offer they couldn’t refuse.

“Two years ago people started chasing us and we said ‘no’,” he said. “It’s gotten to the point where my wife says everything is for sale except her and the kids, but it’s a deal.”

But Mullin told FOX23 he retains a small minority stake. He didn’t like the fact that someone could use his family’s name without him, and he wanted to have a say in how the Mullin name would be used in the future.

And it’s in this minority stake that her opponent, Democrat and former congresswoman Kendra Horn, is crying foul, and it’s also why an ethics complaint was filed with the US House of Representatives earlier. this year after the ad aired with Mullin’s voice.

“At every turn he violated ethics laws,” Horn said. “He was forced to repay tens of thousands of dollars because he used his business to advance his campaign and vice versa. It is an objective fact that he is much richer now than he was when he entered Congress.

Questions about Mullin Plumbing and Mullin’s role began soon after he was elected in 2013, but some of the concerns were actually raised by Mullin himself.

The U.S. House Ethics Committee, in a 2018 report, praised Mullin for coming to the committee for advice on how to handle his congressional duties with his business obligations almost immediately after his election. in 2013.

“Mullin made a good faith effort to seek informal advice from the committee on numerous matters relating to his family business,” the committee said in a statement.

But in the same report, the committee reiterated that no member of Congress should use their likeness to endorse products or services, especially those from which they may personally benefit financially.

The Congress Ethics Rules state:

Under no circumstances should a member be actively involved in selling or personally endorsing good services in which the member has a financial interest.

The committee also ordered Mullin to reimburse Mullin Plumbing $40,000 for an automated accounting error that occurred shortly after he took office, the committee unwittingly found.

But Horn and Democrats said last spring’s Mullin Plumbing ad featuring Mullin was questionable because not only did it violate House ethics rules, she said, but it gave Mullin time. additional airtime during a heated Republican primary for the open seat in addition to the Mullin for Senate ads his campaign paid for.

FOX23 reached out to the Mullin Campaign for a specific response to the Mullin Plumbing ads that aired last spring, and FOX23 was simply told there was no comment. Simply put, the business had already been sold.

In an interview about the sale before Horn brought up the ads, Mullin said repeated allegations of ethics violations were dismissed and he maintained a clean record on his company’s balance sheet.

Mullin said Democrats love attacking his company because he brings up his experiences managing Mullin Plumbing in the House and at committee meetings. In an exchange, Mullin told Democrats “my employees think coverage under ACA sucks. It doesn’t get you anything.

“They want politicians to run Washington DC,” he said. “They don’t want business people. They don’t want veterans. They don’t want people to think outside the box.

Mullin said many of his colleagues told him early on to sell his company and just focus on his congressional career.

FOX23 asked Mullin if he was selling his company in order to prepare for a possible Senate election. He said he expected Inhofe to stay in the job longer, and it was simply an offer he couldn’t refuse.

“This sale took place in 2021,” Mullin said. “Inhofe had just been re-elected. No one suspected that he was going to announce his early retirement. If you had asked me if I was interested in running for the Senate in 2021, I would have said no.

Mullin said the sale of the family business was not the quick and easy money his opponents claim to be. He said it was always an emotional thing that he and his wife often thought about.

“There’s a lot of pride when you have employees who have worked for us for 25 years and you see their families grow and their children graduate,” he said. “Some of them came to us right out of high school and made a living with us and raised their own families because there’s a lot of money in this business.”

Mullin said the sale is sometimes as heavy as a death in the family.

“I had an employee, when we told employees we were selling, who said the hardest day of my life was when my father passed away, and this is the second hardest day of my life. This employee has worked for me for 24 years. It was tough,” Mullin said.


Comments are closed.