Eric Blankenstein says he regrets the racially charged comments he blogged in his 20s, but that’s not enough to satisfy his bosses at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
CFPB Acting Director Mick Mulvaney has asked an independent government watchdog to review the situation, sources told The Wall Street Journal. Mulvaney’s request was a response to numerous calls for Blankenstein’s removal from his post as policy director by a number of his colleagues, government officials and consumer groups.
Blankenstein’s troubles began last month when The Washington Post unearthed blog posts he had written in 2004 that were charged with controversial comments about racism.
Writing under an assumed name, Blankenstein questioned whether the n-word was inherently racist and claimed that the great majority of hate crimes were actually hoaxes.
In one post, Blankenstein refuted a proposal at the University of Virginia that called for harsher academic penalties for intolerant acts, calling it “racial idiocy.”
“Fine… let’s say they called him n-----,” he wrote. “Would that make them racists, or just a-------?”
He then asserted that “hate-crime hoaxes are about three times as prevalent as actual hate crimes.”
Blankenstein was appointed to his position by President Donald Trump and, as one of the highest-paid government employees, is responsible for supervising lenders and enforcing laws that include protecting minorities from discriminatory practices and promoting fair lending.
His comments were criticized by his colleagues in an agency-wide email, with one writing that the posts and her past experiences with Blankenstein have led her to “call into question Eric’s ability and intent” to carry out his duties to enforce fair lending.
Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., also openly called for his termination.
“Eric Blankenstein has done everything he can to keep the CFPB from doing its job, gutting the Office of Fair Lending and failing to file a single anti-discrimination lawsuit since he arrived at the agency in December,” Warren said in a statement. “Now we know why – Blankenstein must be fired.”
In an effort to quell the backlash, Blankenstein penned a letter to the agency expressing regret for his “poor judgment” and word choice.
“Do I regret some of the things I wrote when I was 25 – relatively fresh out of college and not yet even thinking about applying to law school – that I wouldn’t write today? Absolutely,” Blankenstein wrote. “I recognize that many of you had a visceral, negative reaction to reading what I wrote in some of my old blog posts. I did too.”
But apparently, that was not enough to undo the damage. A number of consumer groups have taken to social media to demand Mulvaney fire Blankenstein.
On Thursday, Mulvaney said the situation is “an internal management and employee issue” and declined to do into further detail, according to the WSJ.