WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs – released the following floor speech calling for the firing of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) political appointee Eric Blankenstein after the Washington Post uncovered a past blog where Blankenstein has posted bigoted writings on race, hate crimes and women. In his current role as Policy Director at CFPB, Blankenstein is charged with enforcing consumer protection laws, including laws in place to prevent lending discrimination.
Sen. Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow:
Last week, we learned from investigative reporting that a senior political appointee at the Consumer Protection Bureau, Eric Blankenstein, has written hateful, bigoted blog posts.
This is a man hand-picked for the job by Mick Mulvaney. He’s tasked with enforcing laws to protect consumers, including laws protecting Americans from discrimination in lending.
The Consumer Protection Bureau is supposed to be on the front lines, fighting for families getting ripped off by shady payday lenders and big banks.
The person with Blankenstein’s job should be fighting and preventing the very real financial discrimination that we know happens all too often today, including in Ohio.
But instead, we now know the person tasked with that job has written that most hate crimes are “hoaxes.”
These blog posts are filled with disgusting, bigoted language that shouldn’t be repeated on the Senate floor, or anywhere else.
But this is the man Mick Mulvaney wants going after big banks that discriminate?
How is it that the Director of Management and Budget failed to look into the background of such a senior political appointment?
Placing Blankenstein in charge of fair lending was a serious moral and managerial failure, and he needs to be fired immediately.
It’s been a week now since reporters found these hateful writings, and the fact that he’s still on the job is a disgrace.
We’ve seen no contrition from Blankenstein – no apology for these hateful posts, no acknowledgment that these are totally inappropriate views for someone whose job is to root out discrimination.
How can he expect to lead a staff dedicated to that mission, after these revelations?
There can be no place at the Consumer Protection Bureau for people who don’t believe discrimination is real or a serious problem.
Too many Americans are turned down for loans or charged higher rates based on the color of their skin.
A new report this year from the Center for Investigative Reporting analyzed tens of millions of mortgage records, and found that all across the country, people of color are far more likely to be turned down for a loan, even when you take into account factors like their income and the size of the loan.
And in the run-up to the 2008 crisis, faulty mortgages were targeted to people of color. Even African American and Hispanic borrowers with higher incomes than other borrowers found themselves in subprime products.
These practices of discrimination stripped a generation’s worth of equity from communities that had fought hard for equal access to homeownership.
Borrowers with these higher-cost loans were foreclosed on at almost triple the rate of borrowers with standard, 30-year fixed rate mortgages.
And that’s just in the housing market – we know discrimination is a serious problem in all sorts of lending markets.
That’s why we created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to look after bank customers, and to help root out discrimination.
But under Mick Mulvaney, the agency has been doing the opposite.
Rather than policing shady corporations trying to get away with ripping off and discriminating against customers, Mulvaney gutted the office at CFPB that was supposed to stop discrimination in lending, and disbanded the team that protected student loan borrowers.
He canceled an investigation into the payday lending industry that preys on consumers and traps them in a downward spiral of debt.
He’s hired a bunch of political cronies and given them enormous salaries to run the consumer bureau into the ground.
And now we know one of those cronies, with one of the biggest salaries of all, has a history of spewing disgusting, bigoted views.
The fact that he’s still collecting a $260,000 paycheck from taxpayers is unacceptable. It’s past time for him to be fired.