Consumer group calls for CFPB fair-lending official's ouster

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A consumer advocacy group is calling for the ouster of a Trump political appointee at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after The Washington Post reported that the official wrote 14 years ago that a majority of hate crimes were hoaxes and contended that using a racial slur did not make someone a racist.

The Post reported late Wednesday that Eric Blankenstein, who oversees the enforcement of fair-lending laws as the CFPB’s policy director for supervision, enforcement and fair lending, expressed controversial views including spelling out a racial slur for African-Americans on a 2004 blog post he co-wrote with two other anonymous contributors.

Blankenstein wrote in the political blog that “hate-crime hoaxes are about three times as prevalent as actual hate crimes,’’ the newspaper said.

In the Post story, Blankenstein said his previous writings had no bearing on his current role.

"The insight to be gained about how I perform my job today — by reading snippets of 14 year old blog posts that have nothing to do with consumer protection law — is exactly zero,” he told the paper.

“Any attempt to do so is a naked exercise in bad faith, and represents another nail in the coffin of civil discourse and the ability to reasonably disagree over questions of law and policy,” he said. “The need to dig up statements I wrote as a 25 year old shows that in the eyes of my critics I am not guilty of a legal infraction or neglect of my duties, but rather just governing while conservative.”

In his writings decades ago, Blankenstein referred to a proposal at the University of Virginia as "racial idiocy," for seeking to impose harsher academic penalties for acts of intolerance, the Post said.

In the blog, Blankenstein wrote “Fine … let’s say they called him a n ----,” the Post reported, noting that he spelled out the slur. “Would that make them racists, or just a------?”

Blankenstein is one of the political appointees hired by acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney early this year to run the day-to-day operations of the CFPB because Mulvaney holds two jobs in the Trump administration: chief of the CFPB and head of the Office of Management and Budget.

Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress, a consumer advocacy group that has been critical of Mulvaney's leadership, called for Blankenstein to resign.

“With such abhorrent views, Eric Blankenstein shouldn't be let anywhere near the CFPB’s fair lending division let alone running it,” Frisch said in a press release Wednesday. “Mulvaney must fire him immediately.”

Before joining the CFPB earlier this year, Blankenstein spent six months at the Office of the United States Trade Representative. He previously worked for a decade at the law firm Williams & Connolly.

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