Amid Rebellion by CFPB Staff Over Racist Blog Posts by Eric Blankenstein, Mulvaney Says It’s Okay to Express “Personal Views” on Personal Time
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Amid an ongoing CFPB staff rebellion over the racist blog posts of Eric Blankenstein, the man he handpicked to oversee fair lending enforcement at the Bureau, Mick Mulvaney sent an email to staff explaining that it is perfectly fine to express “personal views” on personal time. The email, obtained by Allied Progress, goes on to mention purported respect for “privacy” and “the healthy exchange of diverse opinions.” Mulvaney also brushed aside calls by Allied Progress and dozens of consumer advocacy organizations and civil rights groups for the ouster of Blankenstein and a return to the CFPB’s robust fair lending enforcement, writing, “I am not going to let any outside group dictate who works here or how I structure the Bureau.”
“We aren’t talking about someone debating the merits and shortcomings of Keynesian economic theory with friends over a pint of beer after work. We’re talking about the racist views of the man Mick Mulvaney chose to oversee fair lending enforcement at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and why he is still collecting one of the largest paychecks in government,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress.
He continued, “We wish Mulvaney were half the champion for consumers that he is for Eric Blankenstein. His choice to ignore these racist and sexist views in the name of ‘diversity of opinion’ is laughable. Every day Blankenstein remains on the job, he further exposes the motivation behind Mulvaney’s work to hobble the CFPB’s ability to protect consumers from discriminatory lending practices.”
During a congressional hearing in 2015, Mulvaney said the CFPB can’t combat discriminatory lending practices if the Bureau has internal discrimination issues of its own.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
According to a report this month in the Washington Post and subsequent research unearthed by Allied Progress, Eric 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 life-saving stem cell research to the Holocaust.
In his initial response to the controversy, Blankenstein went on the attack, saying in a statement issued by Mulvaney spokesman John Czwartacki, that his critics were only angry because he was “Governing While Conservative.” Then, as news of a “rebellion” and deep “dissent” within the CFPB spread, he changed his tune, blaming the issue on a youthful lapse in judgment. In an email to staff he wrote, “do I regret some of the things I wrote when I was 25…absolutely.” He apologized only for “the tone and framing” of his views – as if there is a better “tone” or “framing” for racism. Last night, the New York Times destroyed Blankenstein’s his latest excuse when it uncovered his 2016 defense of racist birther conspiracy theorists. His request, “Help me understand why questioning the place of President Obama’s birth is racist,” was written on a little known, right-wing message board.
American Banker then reported the CFPB employee union has called on Mulvaney to take “swift and decisive action” against Blankenstein over his writing, which they say shows “he is unfit for any leadership position in the federal government.” This followed news that Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown have called for Blankenstein’s ouster, with Brown taking to the Senate floor and calling on Mulvaney to act. In fact, Senate Democrats sent a letter to Mulvaney demanding he explain the vetting process that led to Blankenstein’s hiring.
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