Controversial blog posts written by a senior Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) official have plunged the already divided agency into a bitter battle over its mission and handling of racial discrimination.
Eric Blankenstein, CFPB’s director of supervision, enforcement, and fair lending, has come under fire for anonymous blog posts he wrote in 2004 dismissing hate crimes and questioning whether using the n-word was racist.
The discovery of Blankenstein’s posts sparked a backlash among Obama-era officials at the agency who say he’s unfit to oversee CFPB’s efforts to curb racial discrimination.
Top bureau managers and CFPB union representatives have called on acting Director Mick Mulvaney to fire Blankenstein and abandon a planned reorganization of the agency that would give him more authority over fair lending cases.
The anger over Blankenstein’s blog posts has spurred a reckoning on race relations for the CFPB. The agency was intended to help prevent discrimination in lending, but for critics, it has fallen far short.
A senior CFPB official told reporters “People are pretty dumbstruck at the moment,” He went on to say “This is forcing people to confront what should the bureau be doing in regards to race and [that] the bureau is not a place where we haven’t had our own problems in the past.”
Blankenstein is one of two top CFPB officials leading the bureau’s policing of abusive and discriminatory practices in lending. He joined the CFPB in December and was elevated to a senior position in February, chosen by Mulvaney to curb the bureau’s historically aggressive prosecution of banks and lenders suspected of wrongdoing.
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