Today, after the overdue announcement that Eric Blankenstein, Policy Associate Director for the Supervision, Enforcement and Fair Lending Division at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Consumer Bureau), will be leaving the agency, Chairwoman Waters issued the following statement:
“When Director Kraninger appeared before the Committee in March, I asked her about the past racist writings of the individual entrusted to oversee the Consumer Bureau’s fair lending work, and I am pleased to see that he will soon be departing from a job he was clearly unqualified for.
“The Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity is a critical division of the Consumer Bureau that has been significantly weakened under the leadership of Trump appointees, and it comes as no surprise that the agency has not issued one public fair lending enforcement action since the departure of Director Cordray.
“I continue to call on Director Kraninger to put consumers first by restoring the enforcement and supervisory authority of the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity as mandated by Dodd-Frank and ensuring those who work at the Consumer Bureau are committed to protecting racial, ethnic, and other minorities from discrimination by unscrupulous lenders.”
In September 2018, the Washington Post reported that Blankenstein had posted bigoted and discriminatory writings online. Chairwoman Waters has repeatedly expressed concerns about this issue and consistently called for the Consumer Bureau to fulfill its mission to protect consumers.
In March, Chairwoman Waters reintroduced the Consumers First Act (H.R. 1500), a bill to block the Trump Administration’s anti-consumer agenda and reverse their past efforts to undermine the mission of the Consumer Bureau.
The bill would direct the Consumer Bureau’s leadership to reverse harmful actions taken under Mick Mulvaney’s leadership, including by:
- Resuming the previously authorized supervision of financial firms for Military Lending Act compliance;
- Restoring the supervisory and enforcement powers of the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity;
- Reestablishing a dedicated student loan office; requiring adequate agency staffing, including for supervision and enforcement;
- Limiting the number of political appointees the Consumer Bureau may hire to address allegations that they suppressed the work of dedicated, professional staff;
- Mandating that the consumer complaint database remain transparent and publicly accessible;
- Reinstating the Consumer Advisory Board that was effectively terminated by Mr. Mulvaney with protections to ensure consumer voices are well represented, and that diversity and inclusion are promoted on the agency’s advisory boards; and,
- Encouraging greater cooperation with other government agencies, like the U.S. Departments of Education and Defense.
The Consumers First Act was passed out of the House Financial Services Committee by a vote of 34-26 and will be considered on the House floor next week.
In December 2018, Chairwoman Waters sent a letter to Mulvaney, informing him that she expects his full and complete cooperation with the Committee’s oversight of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s actions during his tenure at the agency.
In February 2018, Chairwoman Waters issued a letter demanding answers on efforts to weaken the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity.