Dan Gilmore / Dec. 10, 2015

Fed Used Made-up Data to Sue for Racial Discrimination

We wonder if the system the bureau created was itself racist.

These will be some tough cases to prove, as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been suing over “racist” lending practices but only guessing at the data to do so. The Bureau was supposed to ensure the companies that issued auto loans did so without racial discrimination. Under its mandate, the bureau accused companies associated with the auto sales business of engaging in racist business practices, ruining reputations and raking in millions of dollars for the federal government. Only one problem: The data the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau used was bad. Instead of verifying the race or ethnicity of the Americans who took out car loans, the bureau simply looked at their names, analyzed what neighborhoods they lived in … and then guessed. And they were even bad at that, as an analysis of the system showed that the bureau’s system was wrong 54% of the time when it guessed that a lender’s race was black. The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote of the practice, “This illegal guessing game of name-that-race underscores how much antidiscrimination law has become a political shakedown, and how the consumer bureau is a lawless body that needs to be reined in if it can’t be eliminated.” And we can’t help but wonder if the system the bureau created was itself racist.

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