Senator Markwayne Mullin ran a multimillion-dollar plumbing business and claimed he only took a $50,000 salary. His financial statements show otherwise.

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Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., speaks during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, April 15, 2021.Al Drago/Pool via AP

  • Republican Senator Markwayne Mullin had a heated argument with a union boss on Wednesday.

  • Mullin claimed he only paid himself a salary of $50,000 and invested “every penny” in his business.

  • But he had listed his private sector salary as $92,000, with an additional $200,000 in income.

A Republican senator drastically downplayed how much money he makes in the private sector when he argued with the Teamsters union chairman at a hearing in Washington on Wednesday.

While Teamsters President Sean O’Brien was berated for his nearly $200,000 salary, Oklahoma Senator Markwayne Mullin claimed he paid himself a salary of just $50,000 while running a plumbing business. But his financial figures show his salary was nearly $92,000 in 2012, the year he was first elected to Congress. His total income was even greater.

“What did you do when you owned your business?” asked O’Brien.

“When I started my company? I kept my salary down to about $50,000 a year because I put every penny into it,” Mullin replied.

Like many business owners, Mullin’s biggest source of income wasn’t his salary. He reported earnings of between $200,000 and $2 million in 2012 from two family businesses, Mullin Plumbing Inc. and Mullin Plumbing West, and an additional $15,000 to $50,000 from shares he owned in a bank.

In 2011, Mullin also earned well over $50,000. His salary was over $77,000 and his other earnings from the same two companies were also over $200,000. He also reported from Mullin Properties on $50,000 in rent that year.

Mullin’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Wednesday’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Senate hearing, chaired by Democratic Socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, focused on “defending workers’ rights to organize.” Before questioning O’Brien, Mullin described himself as a job creator and said in 2009 a union tried to intimidate its workers into unionizing.

“I started with nothing. Absolutely nothing. In fact, I started from nothing.

The story goes on

O’Brien appeared to enjoy sparring with Mullin on Wednesday. At one point he could be seen grinning, and after the hearing he tweeted information from recent financial disclosures that Mullin is worth tens of millions of dollars.

Tulsa World reported in October that Mullin’s net worth had risen to at least $31 million after the apparent sale of his plumbing business to HomeTown Services, a residential heating, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical company.

Mullin has served on Capitol Hill since 2012 and was elected to the Senate in a special election last year. He is a member of the Cherokee Nation and the only Native American member of the Senate.

He is known for clashing with State Department officials in 2021 while trying to get to Afghanistan on a self-proclaimed rescue mission.

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