A Trump administration official responsible for combating discrimination in finance has a virtual history which doesn’t quite coincide with what’s expected from his post.
Eric Blankenstein, policy director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has purportedly penned blog posts questioning whether the ‘n-word’ is actually offensive. Blakenstein’s also claimed that most reported hate crimes are either gross exaggerations or outright fabrications.
Those views, reports the Washington Post, were expressed on a blog Blankstein co-wrote and published more than a decade ago.
In a 2004 post pulled by the Post, Blakenstein blasted a University of Virginia decision to impose harsher academic penalties for acts of intolerance as ‘racial idiocy.’ The same post questioned how campus officials could know the motivation underlying the use of racial slurs and other derogatory words.
“Fine … let’s say they called him a n—–,” Blankenstein wrote, spelling out the n-word. “Would that make them racists, or just a——-?”
On top of that, the CFPC policy director opined that “hate-crime hoaxes are about three times as prevalent as actual hate crimes.”
The Washington Post writes that Blankenstein’s blog posts were anonymously written under the username ‘egb3r.’
The Post claims it was able to verify Blankenstein’s identity by ‘examining biographical details in the blog that include his age, his graduation from the University of Virginia, the date of his marriage and a reference to his father, a lawyer.’
Blankenstein has since acknowledged the Post’s allegations, adding his opinions have nothing to do with his work.
“The insight to be gained about how I perform my job today—by reading snippets of 14 year old blog posts that have nothing to do with consumer protection law—is exactly zero,” he said.
“Any attempt to do is a naked exercise in bad faith, and represents another nail in the coffin of civil discourse and the ability to reasonably disagree over questions of law and policy,” Blankenstein said in a statement. “The need to dig up statements that I wrote as a 25 year old shows that in the eyes of my critics I am not guilty of a legal infraction or neglect of my duties, but rather just governing while conservative.”
Blankenstein, reports the Post, is among the highest-paid officials employed by the federal government. His responsibilities with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau including supervising lenders and ‘enforcing an array of’ laws.
Some of Blankenstein’s charges include enforcing adherence to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, civil rights legislation designed to protect minorities from discriminatory financial practices.
Along with pondering racial protections at the University of Virginia, Blankenstein used his blog to slam abortion as “state sponsored destruction of life.”
“So, in essence you are saying that if a woman makes a mistake and f—- someone she shouldn’t have, she can get rid of the problem with an abortion without the consent of the father, but the man who makes the very same mistake has no such right?” erg3r asked.
The excerpts of Blankenstein’s posts published by the Post seem troublesome within the context of his position, but aren’t explicitly outrageous—they’re common conservative criticisms of a supposedly ‘politically correct’ culture.
Perhaps more worrying than the Post’s discovery of old blog posts is what’s become a common theme within the Trump administration—Blankenstein’s employment history. Once a private-sector lawyer, he represented the same banks he’s now supposed to regulate.
The Post didn’t provide any evidence that Blankenstein has abused his post to discriminate against minorities or overlook injustices. Nevertheless, the agency’s top brass have called his competency into question.
“The language used, and sentiments expressed, are completely unacceptable and call into question Eric’s ability to lead the fair lending program specifically, and the division generally,” said Kirsten Donogue, assistant director of the CFPB’s enforcement division.