CFPB Fair Lending Staff in Rebellion Against Chief Over Racist, Sexist Writing

Reports Over the Weekend Indicate CFPB Fair Lending and Enforcement Staff Are Making It Clear They Want Eric Blankenstein to Go Following Reports Uncovering His Racist, Sexist, and Politically Toxic Blog Posts


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, consumer advocacy organization Allied Progress renewed its call for CFPB Acting Director Mick Mulvaney to fire Eric Blankenstein, his handpicked leader of the Bureau’s fair lending division, over racist, sexist, and politically toxic blog posts he authored that were first reported on last week by the Washington Post. Heading into the weekend, the Post reported further that Blankenstein “faced open rebellion from subordinates” while American Banker revealed growing “dissent” among staff.

We stand with the brave CFPB career staff who are risking everything to raise objections internally as they speak with a unified voice to say Eric Blankenstein shouldn’t be let anywhere near the CFPB’s fair lending division let alone running it given his abhorrent views on race and gender. Mick Mulvaney must fire him immediately. The fact Blankenstein still has a job tells you everything you need to know about what’s motivating Mulvaney to hobble the CFPB’s work protecting consumers from discriminatory lending practices,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress.

The Washington Post reported Friday on an internal rebellion underway against Blankenstein after he used Patrice Ficklin, an African American woman and the director of the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity, for political cover without telling her the true nature of his racist, sexist, and politically toxic blog posts. Despite an attempt by another CFPB political appointee to later silence Ficklin when she became aware of the actual content in Blankenstein’s writing, she sent an email to others in her division that read, in part, “I have had experiences that have raised concerns that are now quite alarming in light of the content of his blog posts — experiences that call into question Eric’s ability and intent to carry out his and his Acting Director’s repeated yet unsubstantiated commitment to a continued strong fair lending program under governing legal precedent.” The Post reported further that “a senior colleague replied to all: ‘I wholeheartedly support you” while “dozens of other colleagues” also “sent bureau-wide notes agreeing with Ficklin’s sentiments.”

By Saturday, American Banker was reporting that “dissent” was spreading at the CFPB over Blankenstein’s blog posts: “Kirsten Donoghue, the CFPB’s assistant director of enforcement, became the second senior leader at the agency to question the fitness” of Blankenstein, her boss at the Bureau. Donoghue wrote in an email to staff late Friday, “the language used, and sentiments expressed, are completely unacceptable and call into question Eric’s ability to lead the fair lending program specifically, and the division generally” – a sentiment Donoghue said was “shared by the entire enforcement division of roughly 100 attorneys.”

Before going to work for Mulvaney, Blankenstein made $153,730 as a lawyer for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. He now earns $259,500 overseeing supervision, enforcement and fair lending for the CFPB, amounting to a $100,000 or 68 percent pay raise. [Elliott Hannon, “Consumer Protection Bureau Head Mulvaney Gave His Political Appointees Big Raises Because It’s Only ‘Waste’ if Someone Else Is Spending It,” Slate, 04/05/18]

Blankenstein’s Racist, Sexist, and Politically Toxic Writing

  • Blankenstein Implied That Calling Someone The N-Word Didn’t Make Them A Racist, But Rather It Made Them An “‘Asshole.'” In a blog post discussing hate crime policies at the University of Virginia, Eric Blankenstein questioned whether or not calling someone “‘nigger'” in fact makes someone “‘racist, or just assholes looking for the most convenient way to get under [someone’s] skin?'” [Hate Crimes vs. Crimes, Two Guys Chatting, 09/30/04]
  • Blankenstein claimed that “hate-crime hoaxes are about three times as prevalent as actual hate crimes.” In a blog post discussing hate crime policies at the University of Virginia, Eric Blankenstein wrote that most hate crimes “‘are in fact hoaxes,’” adding “hate-crime hoaxes are about three times as prevalent as actual hate crimes.” [Hate Crimes vs. Crimes, Two Guys Chatting, 09/30/04]
  • Blankenstein Suggested That Because Many Hate Crimes Are “Hoaxes,” They Should Not Necessarily Be Governed Under UVA’s Strict “Honor System” Until “A Hood Wearing KKK Member Is Caught.” In response to the notion that a hate crime should fall under UVA’s “honor system… [which] employs the single sanction of expulsion to uphold the highest standard of academic integrity at the University,” Eric Blankenstein asked, given the severity of the punishment, “why should the University be taking any action until it is proven?” He went on to say, “Until a hood wearing KKK member is caught, why should the honor system be changed?” [Hate Crimes vs. Crimes, Two Guys Chatting, 09/30/04 and [Lauren Todd Pappa, “U. Virginia divided over sanction,” Cavalier Daily, 11/17/04]
  • Blankenstein Argued That Hate Crimes Are Just Crimes, Asking “Does It Matter That Someone Got Beat Up Because They Were Black.” In a blog post discussing hate crimes and racial issues at the University of Virginia, Eric Blankenstein wrote, “Shouldn’t we be more concerned that the crime happened period? Does it matter that someone got beat up because they were black, or does it matter that someone got beat up?” [Hate Crimes vs. Crimes, Two Guys Chatting, 09/30/04] 
  • Blankenstein Associated “Racial Idiocy” with University of Virginia’s Dean Of African American Affairs and President of the Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP. On September 30, 2004, a conversation involving Eric Blankenstein was posted on his blog “Two Guys Chatting.” Blankenstein appeared to initiate the conversation, saying “So, there is more racial idiocy at UVa.” His conversation partner responded, “well, it’s can’t be any worse than the African City in Detroit,” to which Blankenstein said, “Well, Dean Turner is involved, so you never know.” Blankenstein then said, “Go to www.discriminations.us and read the first post.” [Hate Crimes vs. Crimes, Two Guys Chatting, 09/30/04]
  • Blankenstein Appeared To Blame A Woman’s Right To Choose As The Reason For A Pregnant Woman Being Murdered.Eric Blankenstein implied that abortion laws were partially to blame for a case where a man murdered the mother of his child to avoid paying child support. Blankenstein discussed the case in the context of how women can “dissaociate” themselves from a pregnancy via abortion, but men cannot. Blankenstein implied that the murder case he discussed was a consequence of that imbalance. [“Another question….“, Two Guys Chatting, 12/19/04]
  • Blankenstein Thinks Abortions And Abandoning Children In Dumpsters Are The Same Thing.Eric Blankenstein claimed that having an abortion is the same as having a “child in an alley and [leaving] it in a garbage dumpster. [“Party Inclusiveness/Abortion,” Two Guys Chatting, 09/10/04]
  • Blankenstein Lamented That Women Can“‘[Fuck] Someone [They] Shouldn’t Have'” And Use Abortion To “‘Get Rid Of The Problem'” When Men Can’t. In a blog post, Eric Blankenstein lamented that women can get an abortion when they “fuck someone [they] shouldn’t have” to “get rid of the problem,” but men don’t have the same right. [“Party Inclusiveness/Abortion,” Two Guys Chatting, 09/10/04]
  • Blankenstein Thinks People Who Support Criminalizing Abortion Are “‘Right Thinking.'”Eric Blankenstein said that people who “think that abortion should be illegal no matter what” are “right thinking.” [“Party Inclusiveness/Abortion,” Two Guys Chatting, 09/10/04]
  • Blankenstein Likened Stem Cell Research To The Holocaust, And Indirectly Compared John Kerry To Hitler.Blankenstein said Kerry had listened to scientists to inform his support for the research, and compared it to when “in the 30’s scientists told a European leader that they had a way to benefit humanity….all it required with [sic] removing all the Jews from Europe.” [“You miss the point,” Two Guys Chatting, 09/30/04]
  • Blankenstein Disparaged The Intelligence Of The “‘Average Voter'” Saying That They Voted Based On “‘Image.‘” Blankenstein wrote, “you have too much faith in the average voter,” complaining that “it’s a big enough leap for them to vote for someone based on something other than his outward appearance and ‘image.'” [“You have too much faith,” Two Guys Chatting, 07/21/04]

Mick Mulvaney’s Assault on Fair Lending

  • Mulvaney Proposed Reviewing The CFPB’s Use Of Disparate Impact Theory, Undermining CFPB Enforcement.In May 2018, Mulvaney proposed that the CFPB review enforcement of fair lending law under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. Mulvaney proposed reviewing its use of disparate impact theory in fair lending cases, which would threaten one of the CFPB’s most powerful enforcement tools.[Evan Weinberger, “CFPB to Review Use of Disparate Impact in Fair Lending Cases,” Bloomberg BNA, 05/21/18]

###

Close

Join The Fight!

We need your help to hold powerful special interests accountable and empower hardworking Americans. Join our fight today!