Warner pressing Trump administration on enforcing anti-discrimination laws

mark warnerU.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, joined a group of 12 Senate Democrats in demanding CFPB leadership to explain how Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Policy Director Eric Blankenstein was chosen to oversee supervision, enforcement, and fair lending issues given his past racist writings.

Last week, the Washington Post uncovered a 2004 blog where Blankenstein, under an alias, posted bigoted writings on race, hate crimes, and women. In his current role as Policy Director at CFPB, Blankenstein is charged with enforcing consumer protection laws, including laws in place to prevent lending discrimination. CFPB leadership has failed to condemn Mr. Blankenstein’s writings, and failed to explain how someone with Mr. Blankenstein’s views came to be charged with fair lending responsibilities.

“Mr. Blankenstein was not hired through the competitive service process like most CFPB employees; he is one of your hand-selected political appointees. Further, you have specifically tasked him with overseeing the CFPB’s fair lending supervision and enforcement work at a time when you have decided to restructure the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity.” the Senators wrote.  “It is unclear whether his appointment is due to a failure to investigate Mr. Blankenstein’s background prior to his appointment, Mr. Blankenstein withholding information from you and the CFPB, or an informed decision on your part to ignore his public comments.”

Joining Sen. Warner on the letter are U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT),  Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Edward Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).

In his role as a member of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Warner has advocated for policies that support the well-being of diverse communities. Earlier this year, he led an effort in the Senate to urge banking regulators to take steps that would strengthen access to credit for disadvantaged communities under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).

Full text of the letter can be found here.

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