You are on page 1of 3

Thursday,

October 18, 2018



The Honorable Mark Bialek
Office of the Inspector General
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Mail Stop K-300
Washington, DC 20551

RE: NEW INFORMATION TO CONSIDER IN BLANKENSTEIN INVESTIGATION

Dear Mr. Bialek,

Following the disclosure that an Office of the Inspector General (OIG) investigation
has been requested by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Acting Director Mick
Mulvaney on Eric Blankenstein, a political appointee who leads the Bureau’s Supervision,
Enforcement and Fair Lending division, Allied Progress requests that the OIG consider
additional, recently uncovered information that may be relevant to its investigation.1

The Washington Post revealed last month that Mr. Blankenstein authored blog posts
that expressed controversial, incendiary views on race and gender.2 The comments, which
call into question Mr. Blankenstein’s ability to objectively carry out the CFPB’s duty to
protect consumers from discriminatory lending, rightly warrant additional scrutiny.

After the racist comments were reported, Allied Progress discovered an Amazon
Wish in regular use since 2002 belonging to someone named “Eric Blankenstein” who
resides or resided in Burke, Virginia—the D.C. suburb where Mr. Blankenstein appears to
have grown up.3 The Wish List in question includes A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race
and Human History, a 2014 book that argues the rise of Western power in the world was
due to genetic superiority.4

A review of this book by the Post said it failed to “[grapple] with the reality” that the
supposed “science of racial differences presents an affront” to our “hard-won political
understanding…that all people deserve equal treatment under the law.”5 The themes of
genetic supremacy explored in this book are eerily similar to those presented in The Bell
Curve, a 1994 book authored by Charles Murray that argued “Latin and black immigrants

1 Katy O’Donnell, “Mulvaney refers controversy over racially charged blog posts to inspector general,” POLITICO, 10/16/18.
2 Robert O'Harrow Jr., Shawn Boburg and Renae Merle, “Trump anti-discrimination official once called most hate crimes

hoaxes,” The Washington Post, 09/26/18.


3 Eric Blankenstein Amazon Wish List, Amazon, accessed 07/23/18; Eric Blankenstein Profile, Amazon, accessed 10/12/18;

Fairfax County Marriage Register; Book 123, Page 2287; Fairfax County Assessment Record for Paul and Nadine Blankenstein,
accessed 10/12/18.
4 David Dobbs, “The Fault in Our DNA,“ The New York Times, 07/13/14.
5 Seth Shulman, “Book review: “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History,” by Nicholas Wade,“ Washington

Post, 05/23/14.

1220 L Street NW, Suite 100/364 • Washington, D.C. 20005-4018


(855) ALD-PRGS toll-free • @alliedprogress • alliedprogress.org
are” a drag on the national intelligence level.6 Murray also happens to be one of the few
people Mr. Blankenstein follows on Twitter.7

Consumers have a right to know if Mr. Blankenstein, who was handpicked by Mr.
Mulvaney to oversee fair lending enforcement at the CFPB, was pining for a book as racially
charged and controversial as the blog posts he once wrote and recently defended.

Mr. Blankenstein’s blog posts, among other things, asserted that a person calling
someone a “n----r” (he actually used the word) was not necessarily racist, asked “does it
matter that someone got beat up because they were black,” claimed that hate crime
“hoaxes” are “three times as prevalent as actual hate crimes,”8 blamed a woman’s right to
choose as the reason a pregnant woman was murdered,9 and lamented that women can “‘f--
- someone [they] shouldn’t have’” and have an abortion to “‘get rid of the problem,’” but
men cannot.10 He also likened stem cell research to the Holocaust.11

When confronted with his past writing, Mr. Blankenstein first claimed that his only
misstep was “governing while conservative”12 – a questionable appropriation of the phrase
“driving while black,” which African Americans have used to describe their fear of being
stopped by police when they have done nothing wrong.

Days later he changed his tune, writing in an email to CFPB staff, “do I regret some of
the things I wrote when I was 25—relatively fresh out of college…Absolutely.”13 The excuse
was then undermined by a New York Times story that uncovered recent writing in which Mr.
Blankenstein defended “birthers” from allegations of racism for peddling the false
conspiracy theory that President Obama is not a natural-born U.S. citizen.14

Mr. Blankenstein claimed that his writing has “nothing to do with consumer
protection law.”15 Yet protecting the American people against discriminatory lending is a
cornerstone of consumer protection law and the express purpose of the fair lending division
he now oversees, which, before his involvement, actively pursued and confronted redlining,
mortgage and student loan servicing abuses, and other discriminatory practices through its
examinations and enforcement actions. It is appalling, though not surprising given his
history, that Mr. Blankenstein is helping to hobble the Office of Fair Lending’s ability to
enforce long-established laws against discrimination, especially since he has such a
profound difficulty recognizing discrimination when it takes place.

Allied Progress requests that the OIG consider all available facts, including new
information on the problematic Amazon Wish List potentially owned by Mr. Blankenstein,
as it conducts its investigation into his comments and tenure at the CFPB.

6 Matthew Yglesias, “The Bell Curve is about policy. And it's wrong.“ Vox, 04/10/18.
7 Twitter Profile for Eric Blankenstein, accessed 10/02/18.
8 Hate Crimes vs. Crimes, Two Guys Chatting, 09/30/04.
9 “Another question....“, Two Guys Chatting, 12/19/04.
10 “Party Inclusiveness/Abortion,” Two Guys Chatting, 09/10/04.
11 “You miss the point,” Two Guys Chatting, 09/30/04.
12 Robert O'Harrow Jr., Shawn Boburg, Renae Merle, “Trump anti-discrimination official once called most hate crimes hoaxes,”

The Washington Post, 09/26/18.


13 Kate Berry and Rachel Witkowski, “CFPB official tries to defuse furor over his ‘provocative’ writings,” American Banker,

10/01/18.
14 Glenn Thrush, “Federal Anti-Discrimination Official Under Fire for Racial Comments,” The New York Times, 10/03/18.
15 Robert O'Harrow Jr., Shawn Boburg, Renae Merle, “Trump anti-discrimination official once called most hate crimes hoaxes,”

The Washington Post, 09/26/18.

Page 2 of 3

Racism has no place in the important fair lending enforcement work of the CFPB, or
in any position of public trust for that matter. A thoughtful and thorough investigation
concerning Mr. Blankenstein’s views and writing is clearly in order.

We look forward to your prompt action on this matter.

Sincerely,



Karl Frisch
Executive Director
Allied Progress

Page 3 of 3