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Politics & MoneyMortgagePeople Movers

Former CFPB official whose blog posts sparked racial scandal lands gig at HUD

Trump appointee Eric Blankenstein will handle Ginnie Mae matters for HUD

Eric Blankenstein was a senior official at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau when racially charged blog posts from his past emerged, sparking outrage – and an internal investigation – at the agency last year.

Last month, Blankenstein resigned from his post, a move applauded by some in Congress who called for his removal when the racially insensitive comments came to light.

Although the posts were written 20 years ago, some said he should no longer be in charge of enforcing laws that include protecting minorities from discriminatory practices and promoting fair lending.

Now, Blankenstein has landed a new role within the Trump administration. Politico revealed Wednesday that he has joined the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of General Counsel as a senior counsel tasked with working on Ginnie Mae matters.

Blankenstein gained public attention after blog posts from his past were unearthed that expressed controversial views on hate crimes and the n-word.

Blogging in 2004 under an assumed name, he questioned whether the n-word was inherently racist and claimed that the great majority of hate crimes were actually hoaxes.

The discovery of the controversial posts led to an uproar of protests from staffers at the bureau.

“The tone and framing are deeply disturbing to me as a woman, African American, advocate for LGBTQ rights, and human being,” Patrice Ficklin, a career staffer and director of the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity, wrote in an email to hundreds of agency employees.

The backlash didn’t stop there.

Shortly after the posts came to light, Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, and Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, called for Blankenstein’s termination, which then prompted Mick Mulvaney, who was CFPB acting director at the time, to request that an independent government watchdog review the situation.

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, and Blankenstein opted to find employment elsewhere.

Consumer watchdog group Allied Progress expressed its displeasure with Blankenstein’s new post.

“It was bad enough the Trump CFPB kept Mr. Blankenstein employed for months after his racist writings came to light, ironically to oversee their anti-discrimination efforts. But what’s the Trump HUD’s excuse for hiring him after knowing full well what kind of character they were dealing with?” questioned Allied Progress Director Derek Martin. “What a message this sends: Racism won’t just be tolerated in this administration, it’ll lead to more opportunities.”

 

 

 

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