As Acting Director, Mulvaney Has Sought to Cripple CFPB’s Fair Lending Division
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumer advocacy organization Allied Progress is calling on CFPB Acting Director Mick Mulvaney to fire Eric Blankenstein, his appointee overseeing the Bureau’s fair lending work, in the wake of an explosive report late last night in the Washington Post detailing his racist, sexist, and politically toxic writing.
Among other things, Blankenstein wrote that calling someone “n—-r” (he actually used the word) didn’t make them a racist, asked “does it matter that someone got beat up because they were black,” claimed that hate crime “hoaxes” are “three times as prevalent as actual hate crimes,” blamed a woman’s right to choose as the reason a pregnant woman was murdered, and lamented that women can “‘f— someone [they] shouldn’t have’” and use abortion to “‘get rid of the problem’” but men can’t. He also likened stem cell research to the Holocaust.
“Before Mick Mulvaney took over the CFPB, the Bureau was an aggressive enforcer of laws protecting consumers from discriminatory lending practices, securing more than $400 million in fines and remediation for victims of redlining and other unfair behavior,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress, a consumer advocacy organization that has been critical of Mulvaney’s leadership at the CFPB.
He continued, “At Mulvaney’s direction, the vigorous pursuit of bad financial actors participating in discriminatory lending has ceased to exist. He has gutted the fair lending division’s ability to enforce the law and left it in the hands of a man whose views on race and gender have no place in any position of public trust.”
“With such abhorrent views, Eric Blankenstein shouldn’t be let anywhere near the CFPB’s fair lending division let alone running it. Mulvaney must fire him immediately,” he concluded.
Prior to 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’s CFPB Reconsidered A Rule On Home Mortgages, Making Discrimination Easier In Home Lending.In December 2017, Mulvaney’s CFPB announced it would “reconsider various aspects” of new Home Mortgage Disclosure data reporting requirements designed to “identify… potential discriminatory lending practices in the marketplace.” Critics cautioned this could “make it more difficult to identify discrimination in home lending.” [Kate Berry, “CFPB’s Mulvaney plots HMDA rollback, but it may not matter,” American Banker, 05/25/18; “Home Mortgage Disclosure Act,” Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, accessed 02/01/17; Final Rule, Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (Regulation C), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, accessed 02/01/18; “Statement with respect to HMDA implementation,” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 12/21/17]
- Mulvaney Stripped The CFPB’s Office Of Fair Lending And Equal Opportunity Of Its Enforcement Power.In February 2018, Mulvaney stripped enforcement powers from the CFPB’s Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity, which consumer advocates argued will weaken or even dismantle the office responsible for lending discrimination issues. The office is now more directly under Mulvaney’s supervision. [Renae Merle, “Trump administration strips consumer watchdog office of enforcement powers in lending discrimination cases,” The Washington Post, 02/01/18; Makada Henry-Nickie, “On fair lending, Mulvaney’s actions at CFPB speak louder than his words,” Brookings Institution, 04/12/18; Hannah Levintova, “The Trump Administration Just Made it Easier for Banks to Screw Over Minority Borrowers,” Mother Jones, 02/02/18]
- 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]
- While In Congress, Mulvaney Voted Against Tougher Enforcement Of Housing Anti-Discrimination Laws, And Repeatedly Voted To Block Regulations On Discriminatory Auto Loans.Mulvaney voted against an amendment advocating for “tougher enforcement of housing anti-discrimination and predatory lending laws.” He also voted to block the CFPB from regulating “auto loans with discriminatory interest rates.” [Fiscal 2017 Budget Views and Estimates/Office of Financial Research,CQ Committee Coverage, 02/03/16; “How Maine’s members of Congress voted,” Portland Press Herald,07/09/16 and HR 5485, House of Representatives, Vote 383, 07/07/16; “How They Voted: Inland elected officials weigh in on federal issues“, The Press-Enterprise, 11/21/15 and HR 1737, House of Representatives Vote 637, 114thCongress]