By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
Amid an ongoing Consumer Financial Protection Bureau staff rebellion over the racist blog posts of Eric Blankenstein, the man handpicked by Mick Mulvaney to oversee fair lending enforcement at the Bureau, Mulvaney sent an email to staff explaining that it is perfectly fine to express “personal views” on personal time.
The email, obtained by the watchdog group, 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 are 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,” Karl Frisch, the executive director of Allied Progress, said in a news release.
“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 opinions 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,” Frisch said.
During a congressional hearing in 2015, Mulvaney reportedly said the CFPB can’t combat discriminatory lending practices if the Bureau has internal discrimination issues of its own.
According to a published report this month and subsequent research unearthed by Allied Progress, Blankenstein wrote that calling someone the N-word didn’t make them a racist.
He asked, “does it matter that someone got beat up because they were black,” and claimed that hate crime “hoaxes” are “three times as prevalent as actual hate crimes.”
Further, Allied Progress said Blankenstein blamed a woman’s right to choose as the reason a pregnant woman was murdered, and lamented that women can “‘[have sex with] 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 said 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 appeared to walk back those comments and blamed the issue on a youthful lapse in judgment.
In an email to his staff, Blankenstein said he does “regret some of the things I wrote when I was 25…absolutely.”
He apologized for “the tone and framing” of his views.
However, the New York Times would later uncovered Blankenstein’s 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, according to Allied Progress.