WASHINGTON, D.C. – A breaking news report from The New York Times exposes even more racially derogatory remarks from Eric Blankenstein, a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) political appointee handpicked by President Trump and CFPB head Mick Mulvaney to oversee supervision, enforcement, and fair lending. Mr. Blankenstein’s comments are dismissive of racism and show that he is unfit to oversee the agency’s policing of discrimination.
The Center for Responsible Lending’s Senior Legislative Counsel Yana Miles issued the following statement:
Mr. Blankenstein must be removed from his post and this must be combined with a demonstrable commitment by CFPB head Mick Mulvaney to fair lending. Thus far, the Mulvaney approach has been worse than inaction – it has been an appalling retreat from enforcing anti-discrimination laws.
Under the previous CFPB Director, the agency had a strong fair lending record, highlighted by winning record setting court settlements for consumers who faced illegal discrimination in the housing, auto loan, and credit card markets.
The enduring legacy and present-day experience of financial discrimination is the key driver of the racial wealth gap. Vigorously addressing this is a legal and moral imperative.
Since Mick Mulvaney took over the CFPB, he and his political appointees have pulled back on fair lending in several ways, as demonstrated by the following:
- Patrice Ficklin, the career official who heads the fair lending office at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), responded to Blankenstein’s remarks in part by referencing “his and the Acting Director’s repeated yet unsubstantiated commitment to a continued strong fair lending program under governing legal precedent.”
- The CFPB under Mulvaney has yet to issue any violations of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.
- Mulvaney declared an intent to ignore the Disparate Impact standard, a long-standing legal test that helps combat discrimination. His “comments suggest the CFPB may make it harder for protected groups, including minorities and women, to claim they were adversely impacted by discriminatory practices.”
- Mulvaney praised the repeal of anti-discrimination auto lending guidance.
- Mulvaney's team announced that the fair lending office would be stripped of its supervisory and enforcement powers
- It was recently reported that the agency has the development of regulation on fair lending for minority and women-owned small businesses near the bottom of its priorities.
- The agency has pulled back on accountability for payday lenders, which target communities of color.
As initially reported in the Washington Post and followed up in The New York Times, Eric Blankenstein’s comments included dismissing the vast majority of hate crime claims as hoaxes, questioning whether people who use a racial slur are racist, and saying that the people who perpetuate the racist birther conspiracy theory are not racist.
For more information, or to arrange an interview with a CRL spokesperson on this issue, please contact Ricardo Quinto at firstname.lastname@example.org.