The news went largely overlooked because it coincided with the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing with Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh, but the Washington Post published a striking report on a top official at the CFPB.
A senior Trump appointee responsible for enforcing laws against financial discrimination once questioned in blog posts written under a pen name if using the n-word was inherently racist and claimed that the great majority of hate crimes were hoaxes.
Eric Blankenstein, a policy director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, expressed those and other controversial views more than a decade ago on a political blog he co-authored with two other anonymous contributors.
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.
Blankenstein wrote these pieces under a pen name, but acknowledged last week that the content was his.
With a record like this, it stands to reason that Blankenstein would quickly find himself out of a job, especially in light of the fact that his current position focuses on enforcing anti-discrimination laws.
In the wake of the Post’s report, Patrice Ficklin, director of the CFPB’s fair lending office, told the agency’s director, Mick Mulvaney, that she could no longer support Blankenstein given his “deeply disturbing and offensive” writings.
And yet, as of yesterday, Blankenstein isn’t on his way out. The Wall Street Journal reported:
The top enforcement official at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Monday expressed regret for “poor conduct” regarding past racial remarks he made on a blog more than a decade ago, saying he was “absolutely committed to carrying out the bureau’s fair lending mandate.”
Eric Blankenstein, a CFPB associate director overseeing supervision, enforcement and fair lending, in an email told CFPB staffers he intended to stay on the job.
In theory, Blankenstein’s intention to stay could be irrelevant – Mulvaney or the White House could still show him the door – but it’s been a nearly a week, and the fact that he’s still at his post suggests the Trump administration is comfortable with the status quo, appearances be damned.