Consumer bureau official at center of racial controversy to leave agency

Consumer bureau official at center of racial controversy to leave agency
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A senior Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) official under fire for his anonymous blog posts on racial discrimination will leave the agency by the end of the month, according to an internal email obtained by The Hill.

Eric Blankenstein, CFPB policy associate director for supervision, enforcement, and fair lending, announced Wednesday that he will leave the bureau for “another position” in an internal email.

Blankenstein said that his last day at the CFPB would likely be May 31, and did not elaborate on the new job he is taking outside of the bureau.

A senior CFPB official told The Hill that “Eric informed leadership that he will be departing the Bureau in the coming weeks for another opportunity.” Blankenstein’s departure was first reported by Bloomberg Law.

Blankenstein, a CFPB political appointee, set off an internal revolt at the bureau after the emergence of racially insensitive blog posts he authored in 2004, revealed by The Washington Post in September. 

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In the controversial blog posts, Blankenstein questioned whether it was inherently racist to use the “n-word” and argued that most reported hate crimes were actually hoaxes.

The emergence of Blankenstein’s blog posts sparked an uproar within the CFPB, lawmakers and the bureau employee’s union. Several CFPB officials said that Blankenstein’s commentary disqualified him from his role overseeing the enforcement of federal bans on racial discrimination in lending.

Blankenstein said last year he regretted writing the posts, but did not face disciplinary action from the CFPB’s then-acting director, Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyHillicon Valley: Trump official declines to testify on trade protections for tech | Senators call for better info-sharing on supply chain threats | Apple pulls app after Chinese pressure Overnight Energy: Dems subpoena Perry in impeachment inquiry | EPA to overhaul rules on lead contamination tests | Commerce staff wrote statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump Commerce staff drafted statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump's hurricane predictions MORE, who hired him to the bureau in December 2017.

CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger, who succeeded Mulvaney in December 2018, suggested shortly after taking over the bureau that she would not remove Blankenstein for his blog posts.

Blankenstein said in his departure email, “It has been my privilege to serve the American people here to further the Bureau’s mission of protecting consumers and ensuring safe, fair competitive markets for consumer financial products and services."