REALITY CHECK: Mulvaney Dodges And Misleads Over Blankenstein At CFPB’s Baton Rouge Town Hall

During a town hall hosted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Baton Rouge, Louisiana today, Acting Director Mick Mulvaney dodged a question about the racist writing of Eric Blankenstein, his political appointee who oversees fair lending enforcement at the Bureau. He also failed to say whether he agreed or disagreed with Blankenstein’s claim that most hate crimes are hoaxes, and mislead the audience about how recent Blankenstein’s writing occurred, saying it was confined to 14-15 years ago, despite reports that it continued as recently as 2016.

Mick Mulvaney Falsely Claimed Eric Blankenstein’s Racist Writing Was Confined to 14-15 Yeas Ago, Despite Reports On Blankenstein’s Writing From As Recently As 2016

MULVANEY’S FALSE CLAIM: Mulvaney Claimed Blankenstein’s Racist Writings Were From “Closer To Fourteen Or Fifteen Years Ago.”

  • During His October 2018 Louisiana Town Hall, Mick Mulvaney Was Asked If It Was Right For Eric Blankenstein To Be In Charge Of Fair Lending At The CFPB. “Mr. Mulvaney, there have been recent news reports lately about your head of fair lending Eric Blankenstein who wrote racist blog posts denying that hate crimes exist. Um, he blamed this on liberals, then youthful indiscretion and then, just recently they found similar posts from two years ago. I would like to ask you, do you believe hate crimes exist and do you believe it’s right for him to be in charge of fair lending?” [“Town hall in Baton Rouge, La., on preventing elder financial exploitation,” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 10/18/18]
  • Mick Mulvaney Responded By Saying That Blankenstein’s Comments Were Actually From Fourteen Or Fifteen Years Ago; He Did Not Give His Thoughts On Hate Crimes. “On the other matter regarding Mr. Blankenstein, I appreciate the interest in that, but I will point out to people this is an internal management and employee issue for us, we’ll be handling it privately within the Bureau, I will clarify the one factual allegation you made that these were statements he made two years ago, I’m pretty sure they’re closer to fourteen or fifteen years ago. We’ll be handling that internally, so I appreciate the interest. [“Town hall in Baton Rouge, La., on preventing elder financial exploitation,” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 10/18/18]

REALITY CHECK: As Recently As 2016, Blankenstein Posted Racially Charged Comments Suggesting The “Birther” Conspiracy Theory Was Not Racist.

  • As Recently As 2016, Eric Blankenstein “Posted Racially Charged Comments On A Conservative Blog,” Including Arguing That Questioning President Obama’s Country of Birth Was Not Necessarily Racist. “As recently as 2016, an author identifying himself as Mr. Blankenstein — and using the same avatar of the comedian Larry David as the one that appears on Mr. Blankenstein’s personal Twitter account — posted racially charged comments on a conservative blog. During a back and forth on Ricochet.com with the former ‘Simpsons’ writer and stand-up comic Dana Gould, Mr. Blankenstein argued that claims by President Trump and other conservatives that Mr. Obama’s birth certificate was illegitimate were not rooted in prejudice. ‘Please help me understand how birtherism = racism,’ wrote Mr. Blankenstein, at the time a lawyer in private practice in Washington. ‘Replace President Obama’s Kenyan heritage with Swedish (and for fun change his name to Sven Laarson), but he holds the exact same positions, says the exact same things, etc. If Trump went around arguing that President Laarson was actually born in Malmo, you wouldn’t call that racist, would you?’ he wrote. ‘Help me understand why questioning the place of President Obama’s birth is racist.’” [Glenn Thrush, “Federal Anti-Discrimination Official Under Fire for Racial Comments,” The New York Times, 10/03/18]

Mick Mulvaney Declined to Say Whether He Disagreed With Eric Blankenstein’s Claim That Most Hate Crimes Are Hoaxes

MULVANEY DODGES: Mulvaney Failed To Specify Whether He Believed Hate Crimes Were Real Or Not. 

  • During His October 2018 Louisiana Town Hall, Mick Mulvaney Was Asked If He Believed That Hate Crimes Exist. “Mr. Mulvaney, there have been recent news reports lately about your head of fair lending Eric Blankenstein who wrote racist blog posts denying that hate crimes exist. Um, he blamed this on liberals, then youthful indiscretion and then, just recently they found similar posts from two years ago. I would like to ask you, do you believe hate crimes exist and do you believe it’s right for him to be in charge of fair lending?” [“Town hall in Baton Rouge, La., on preventing elder financial exploitation,” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 10/18/18]
  • Mick Mulvaney Did Not Give His Thoughts On Hate Crimes During His Response. “On the other matter regarding Mr. Blankenstein, I appreciate the interest in that, but I will point out to people this is an internal management and employee issue for us, we’ll be handling it privately within the Bureau, I will clarify the one factual allegation you made that these were statements he made two years ago, I’m pretty sure they’re closer to fourteen or fifteen years ago. We’ll be handling that internally, so I appreciate the interest. [“Town hall in Baton Rouge, La., on preventing elder financial exploitation,” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 10/18/18]
  • In A 2004 Blog Post, Eric Blankenstein Said Most Hate Crimes Are Hoaxes. “In a 2004 post, Blankenstein wrote that a proposal at the University of Virginia to impose harsher academic penalties for acts of intolerance was ‘racial idiocy.’ He questioned how authorities could know the motivation of someone using a racial slur. ‘Fine . . . let’s say they called him n—– ,” he wrote, spelling out the slur. ‘. . . would that make them racists, or just a——-?’ Blankenstein also wrote that ‘hate-crime hoaxes are about three times as prevalent as actual hate crimes.’” [Robert O’Harrow Jr., Shawn Boburg and Renae Merle, “Trump anti-discrimination official once called most hate crimes hoaxes,” The Washington Post, 09/26/18]

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