CFPB's inspector general asked to probe questions over political aide's past writings

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WASHINGTON — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s inspector general has been asked to look into questions over a political appointee at the agency whose racially charged writings from over a decade ago have led to calls for his resignation.

Referral of the matter to the inspector general by acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney was first reported by Politico on Tuesday, although further details about the inquiry were still unclear. The CFPB shares an inspector general with the Federal Reserve Board.

As first reported by The Washington Post, the writings by Eric Blankenstein from 14 years ago suggested that using a racial slur does not necessarily make someone a racist and most hate crimes were “hoaxes.”

Blankenstein, the CFPB’s policy director for supervision, enforcement and fair lending, wrote in one blog post: “Fine … let’s say they called him a n-----, would that make them racists, or just an a-----e looking for the most convenient way to get under his skin?”

The blog spelled out the racial slur.

Revelations of Blankenstein’s writings have led to recriminations both inside and outside the agency. CFPB employees, consumer groups and some lawmakers have argued that the blogs disqualify him from a leadership position at the agency, where his duties include overseeing the bureau’s fair-lending office.

Some have said the controversy calls into question Mulvaney’s planned reorganization of that office.

Gail Wisely, president of the CFPB’s chapter of the National Treasury Employees Union, said in an Oct. 5 email to Mulvaney that the union “continues to believe [the reorganization] should be paused to allow for a full examination of its impact on the very consumers we are charged with protecting, and, Blankenstein must go.”

In a memo to staff last week, Mulvaney said racial discrimination “will not be tolerated here,” but he did not mention Blankenstein by name and said he would not cede to outside pressure over agency personnel matters.

“Be assured I am not going to let any outside group dictate who works here or how I structure or manage the bureau,” Mulvaney wrote.

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