Staff members are rebelling at a federal agency created to prevent discriminatory lending after it was revealed that a Trump-appointed policy director once questioned whether the N-word is racist.
Managers and union representatives at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) have demanded that Acting Director Mick Mulvaney fire Eric Blankenstein, The Hill reported on Wednesday.
This comes in response to the Washington Post unearthing an anonymous 2004 post authored by Blankenstein, in which he questioned if using the N-word was inherently racist and claimed that the great majority of hate crimes were hoaxes.
Patrice Ficklin, who manages the agency’s fair lending office, said Blankenstein can’t be trusted to oversee the bureau’s anti-discrimination mission. She also called on Mulvaney to abandon a plan that would transfer authority to enforce fair lending regulations from her office to Blankenstein.
After first defending his comments, Blankenstein decided—under pressure—to apologize for his 2004 comments. But CFPB staffers who remain from the Obama era rejected his apology.
CFPB launched during Barack Obama’s presidency as part of his strategy to reform the financial industry after the 2008 banking crisis. In 2012, the agency announced that it will “use all available legal avenues, including disparate impact, to pursue lenders whose practices discriminate against consumers.”
The Trump administration has been working to turn back the clocks on government regulation of the financial industry, as well as curbing discrimination lawsuits against lenders. Trump appointed Mulvaney and Blankenstein to carry out that mission.
It’s no surprise that Mulvaney rejected calls to fire Blankenstein.
“I recognize that this is not the result that some of you may have wanted. But I stand by my decision and will proceed accordingly,” Mulvaney wrote in an email Tuesday night to CFPB employees.