Democrats press Carson after HUD hires aide who authored racist blog posts

Democrats press Carson after HUD hires aide who authored racist blog posts
© Aaron Schwartz

Six Democratic senators are pressuring Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonTrump administration ends Obama fair housing rule Castro urges Dems to seize moment on social reform Overnight Health Care: Fauci says 'bizarre' efforts to discredit him only hurt the White House | Alabama to require face masks | House panel probes 'problematic' government contracts MORE on his department’s hiring of a former consumer bureau official under investigation for a series of racist blog posts.

The senators asked the secretary in a letter released Monday to explain why and how Eric Blankenstein was hired to a legal position at HUD despite controversies that emerged in his previous job.

“In our country, private citizens may espouse whatever views they have, even abhorrent ones. What they do not have a right to is a six-figure federal job,” wrote the senators, all members of the Senate Banking Committee.

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“HUD has an important mission to ‘create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all,’ ” they continued. “It needs employees that can carry out and bolster that mission, not ones that call HUD’s commitment to it into question.” 

The signatories included Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownWhat Trump's orders will and won't do for payroll taxes, unemployment benefits Overnight Defense: Guardsman to testify Lafayette Square clearing was 'unprovoked escalation' | Dems push for controversial Pentagon nominee to withdraw | Watchdog says Pentagon not considering climate change risks to contractors Democrats urge controversial Pentagon policy nominee to withdraw MORE (Ohio), the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, along with Democratic Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenators ask for removal of tariffs on EU food, wine, spirits: report VOA visa decision could hobble Venezuela coverage Bottom line MORE (N.J.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenNew poll shows Markey with wide lead over Kennedy in Massachusetts Trump and allies grapple with how to target Harris Chris Wallace: Kamala Harris 'not far to the left despite what Republicans are gonna try to say' MORE (Mass.), Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedDemocrats ramp up warnings on Russian election meddling Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Overnight Defense: Embattled Pentagon policy nominee withdraws, gets appointment to deputy policy job | Marines, sailor killed in California training accident identified | Governors call for extension of funding for Guard's coronavirus response MORE (R.I.), Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoOcasio-Cortez to speak at Democratic convention Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump signs major conservation bill into law | Senate votes to confirm Energy's No. 2 official | Trump Jr. expresses opposition to Pebble Mine project MORE (Nev.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDemocrats shy from leading court fight over Trump orders Exclusive: Democrats seek to increase racial diversity of pandemic relief oversight board Overnight Defense: Guardsman to testify Lafayette Square clearing was 'unprovoked escalation' | Dems push for controversial Pentagon nominee to withdraw | Watchdog says Pentagon not considering climate change risks to contractors MORE (Md.).

The senators asked Carson to explain why Blankenstein had been hired, whether the White House had any role in his hiring, and how much the secretary knew about Blankenstein’s writings.

"We all are human, we all make mistakes and learn from them- especially 15 years later- and we all deserve second chances," Carson said in a statement to The Hill. "Eric’s impressive career and experience will be a great asset to the agency.”

Blankenstein joined HUD in June as a senior counsel overseeing matters involving Ginnie Mae, a government-backed firm that guarantees mortgage-backed securities. He previously served as a policy director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) until May

Blankenstein sparked a rebellion at the CFPB in September when The Washington Post revealed anonymous, racist blog posts he wrote in 2004, long before his appointment to the agency. In those writings, Blankenstein argued that the majority reported hate crimes were likely hoaxes and questioned whether using the “n-word” was inherently racist. 

Several senior CFPB officials and Democratic lawmakers called for Blankenstein’s firing after the emergence of his blog posts.

Former acting CFPB Director Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyFauci says positive White House task force reports don't always match what he hears on the ground Bottom line White House, Senate GOP clash over testing funds MORE declined to penalize Blankenstein, whom he appointed to the bureau in December 2017. But Mulvaney later asked the Federal Reserve inspector general, which also covers the CFPB, to investigate the situation.