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 ending delay on over B in Puerto Rico disaster aid HUD to roll back Obama-era housing desegregation rule Trump tells California, New York to 'politely' ask him for help with homeless population 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 BrownSunday shows - All eyes on Senate impeachment trial Senate Democrat: 'Fine' to hear from Hunter Biden Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial MORE (Ohio), the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, along with Democratic Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezMedia's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle Dem senators say Iran threat to embassies not mentioned in intelligence briefing Overnight Defense: Iran crisis eases as Trump says Tehran 'standing down' | Dems unconvinced on evidence behind Soleimani strike | House sets Thursday vote on Iran war powers MORE (N.J.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders holds four-point lead on Biden in new California poll Sanders, Biden campaigns ramp up attacks over Social Security Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti: NYT dual endorsement could hurt Warren, Klobuchar MORE (Mass.), Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedOvernight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request Senate Dems urge Esper to oppose shifting Pentagon money to border wall Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change MORE (R.I.), Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoSenate Democrats launch investigation into Trump tax law regulations DSCC endorses combat veteran MJ Hegar in Texas race to unseat Cornyn Senate confirms Trump's 50th circuit judge, despite 'not qualified' rating MORE (Nev.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenImpeachment trial begins with furor over rules Fox's Bill Hemmer sees sizable viewer increase for debut in Shep Smith's former time slot Roberts under pressure from both sides in witness fight 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 MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneySenate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial Collins breaks with GOP on attempt to change impeachment rules resolution Senate blocks push to subpoena Bolton in impeachment trial 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.