Consumer bureau to probe top Trump official's past racial comments

Consumer bureau to probe top Trump official's past racial comments
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The acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has asked internal government watchdogs to investigate the emergence of and response to writings by a top agency employee dismissing racial discrimination.

Acting CFPB chief Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: Why the tax law failed to save the GOP majority | Grassley opts for Finance gavel, setting Graham up for Judiciary | Trump says China eager for trade deal | Facebook reeling after damning NYT report Mulvaney positioning himself to be Commerce Secretary: report Top House Budget Dem predicts a 'nonconfrontational' committee under Dem leadership MORE has asked the Federal Reserve Inspector General Office to probe the growing controversy over 14-year-old blog posts written by Eric Blankenstein, associate director of the Office of Supervision, Enforcement and Fair Lending.

The CFPB, housed within the Fed system, uses the central bank’s inspectors for internal probes. Mulvaney’s referral was first reported by Politico and The Associated Press, and a CFPB spokesman confirmed Mulvaney’s request to The Hill.

Blankenstein joined the CFPB in December and was promoted by Mulvaney in February to a senior position overseeing all lending discrimination cases. He is one of several political appointees hired by Mulvaney to rein in the historically aggressive CFPB, which polices U.S. banks and lenders for fraud and abuse.

The Washington Post reported last month that Blankenstein had written anonymous blog posts in 2004 arguing that most reported hate crimes were hoaxes and questioning whether using the N-word was inherently racist.

Though Blankenstein later said he regretted the language he used, the emergence of the blog posts triggered a revolt within the CFPB by agency veterans hired during the Obama administration.

Patrice Ficklin, the CFPB’s fair lending chief, said Blankenstein could not be trusted to tackle racial discrimination and asked Mulvaney to scrap a plan that would give him full oversight of such cases. National Treasury Employees Union President Anthony Reardon and its CFPB chapter leader, Gail Wisely, called on Mulvaney to fire Blankenstein.

Mulvaney has resisted calls to fire or demote Blankenstein from CFPB employees, Democratic lawmakers and left-leaning political groups. In internal emails to bureau staffers, Mulvaney has defended his planned reorganization of the CFPB while asking employees to treat each other with “professionalism, respect and civility.”

“We do our work together, and we are either going to choose to do it very well, or we won’t,” Mulvaney wrote.

“That is a choice we make together. Our focus must always remain on doing our jobs, enforcing the law and working together to do a great job for the American people."