Senators Warn US Banks Not to Deny COVID-19 Relief to Gun Industry Customers

Bank of America won't lend to AR makers

By Larry Keane

U.S. Senators are warning big banks not to use the recent pandemic recovery funds as a bludgeon against industries they find out of fashion. In other words, don’t use taxpayer funds as a weapon to score political points at the next corporate cocktail party.

U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), along with 18 additional senators, authored a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, warning them not just that this could happen, but they fully expect it to happen. That’s because they have seen it happen before.

“A small but vocal minority has weaponized federally-backed banks against politically-disfavored businesses that operate in good faith and compliance with the law, by denying them financial services based on political reasons that have nothing to do with creditworthiness,” wrote the 19 senators who signed the letter.

Disfavored Industries

Citibank

Bigstock

The senators didn’t pull punches. They listed the worst offenders, including Citibank, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase among others. Each of these banks has taken discriminatory stances against the firearms industry, denying financial services unless manufacturers and retailers adopt their views on gun control.

It isn’t just the firearm industry that’s been victimized by the corporate virtue signalers.  These banking institutions, along with credit card processors and financial service providers, also targeted the oil and gas industry, coal, private corrections and other politically disfavored industries.

These are all banking institutions which use taxpayer funds not only to bail them out, but to insure them against losses. They are literally playing politics with American’s taxpayer dollars – again – at a time when America is in a financial crisis.

JP Morgan Chase

Bigstock

Specifically, the senators are asking Sec. Mnuchin and Chairman Powell how the White House and the Small Business Administration is going to ensure the Paycheck Protection Program and SBA disaster relief funds are distributed in an “unbiased manner.”

The senators also want to know how the Trump Administration is communicating to the banks that now, more than any other time, isn’t when banks should be playing favorites with money that isn’t theirs and what the administration and SBA will do when it learns these banks do it anyway.

Abusive History

The senators have reason to be wary. They watched these taxpayer-protected banks do this before, with no accountability. In 2008, taxpayers came to the rescue when the banking industry was crashing. A cool $16.8 trillion dollar check was paid out by taxpayers to keep banks afloat because they were considered “too big to fail.” But they turned around and failed the taxpayer.

They used those funds that came from everyday taxpayers, from the firearm and ammunition industry, from oil and gas and private corrections among others, and wrote new policies that said if these industries didn’t adhere to their “social standards,” they’d lose out on the financial services they need to survive.

That’s why Sen. Cramer introduced the Freedom Financing Act, S. 821. This bill, along with the U.S. House of Representatives companion bill, H.R. 2079 by Congressman Roger Williams (R-Texas), would work to end discriminatory lending practices of major banking institutions that seek to circumvent the legislative process and set social policy from the boardroom. But banks don’t seem to be getting the message.

They continue to scoff at lawmakers’ warnings that they’re abusing their authority and crushing free commerce by picking winners and losers like it’s a popularity contest.

Citbank’s CEO Michael Corbat actually tried selling his bank’s policy of discriminating against Second Amendment-protected businesses as “good practice.” This is the same bank that got at $45 billion bailout on the backs of taxpayers, only to turn around and attempt to push policies that went beyond the law.

That decision cost Citibank a $600 million Louisiana road improvement investment project because they interfered with the lawful commerce-in-arms.

Still Happening

Other banks weren’t paying attention. In 2018, Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan refused to buckle under political pressure to deny firearm manufacturers financial services, saying, “I don’t know if banks or credit card companies or any other financial institution should be the arbiter of what an American can buy.”

That changed, though. Sloan retired in June 2019, just two months after Wells Fargo and other banks got failing grades from gun control radicals Guns Down America. This week, the new CEO Charles Scharf reported the bank’s relationship with the NRA is declining,” adding the bank would no longer participate in line of credit or mortgage commitments.

It’s not coincidental that Wells Fargo got the failing grade, backed off financing with gun-related organizations and at the same time gave $10 million over three years to the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research, a gun control research program.

Big banks continue to benefit off the backs of American taxpayers, even as they pick winners and losers outside of the framework of the legislative process. Public policy is decided by those who are elected by the people and remain accountable to the people for their decisions.

Banks have demonstrated an antipathy to taxpayers and their concerns, instead shoving their politically-driven ideas down from their high-rise corporate boardrooms.

The 19 U.S. senators are right to demand answers and accountability. Banks have proven they won’t use tax dollars to benefit taxpayers. They will use them, though, as a way to crush businesses they despise.

 

Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

comments

  1. avatar Dennis says:

    You really think they’d go that far!? That’s sarcasm folks!

    1. avatar Jeff in CO says:

      Dennis you pinko commie constitution-hating leftist…oh, sorry, you spelled out it was sarcasm, missed it! 😂

      (Figured someone had to be the first to be a troublemaker on here today! 😉)

  2. avatar Dude says:

    This is what happens when the Party of Love, Acceptance, and Equality decides to stigmatize a group of people.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Dude,

      “This is what happens when the Party of Love, Acceptance, and Equality decides to stigmatize that they despise and want to squash a group of people.”

      Fixed that for you!

      (I had to return the favor.)

  3. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    U.S. Senators are warning big banks not to use the recent pandemic recovery funds as a bludgeon against industries they find out of fashion.

    And banks would care about that warning because … ??? (crickets chirping)

    Let’s be totally honest: various entities in the United States who embrace Progressivism are operating with darned close to absolute impunity. And they will continue to do so — actually escalating their efforts — as long as they can continue to operate with impunity.

    1. avatar Debbie W. says:

      Any form of opponent effort downplay progressives appreciate. Their goal is to advance one cricket whisker at a time and with your kind of help they will. Show some respect for Senators letting banks prone to discriminate know they are under a microscope. Banks do not disregard such warnings from US Senators and to assume otherwise is a bad assumption.

  4. avatar GS650G says:

    The Obama-era tactics taught gun businesses to bank wisely. I doubt this is a problem since many gun stores found safer places to bank.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      I tend to agree, the free market system should take care of such shit without a lot of interference from anyone else. ie, if a major group of banks wish to voluntarily deprive themselves of the profits from working with companies which collect a few hundred billion dollars’ in revenue each year, other banks will step up to collect that money, or their shareholders will replace the executives of that group of banks with others who *will* collect that additional profit. If it turns out that somehow does not happen, I will join millions of others who also like money, and together we will open new banks to collect those profits.

  5. avatar Debbie W. says:

    Great…US Senators ahead of the curve heading pompous self serving lowlife gun grabbing Rats off at the pass. Nothing I despise more than underhanded big money slimeballs who think they are above it all…i.e. bloomberg and his ilk.

  6. avatar Darkman says:

    While commendable this “Letter” means little in regards to changing the way lending institutions do business. There are far bigger fish to fry in respect to the 2nd A. Constitutional Carry, the HPA and the fight against Red Flag Laws.
    This is a good time to contact your Senator and voice your Opinion on where they stand in regards to this and other 2A Issues. Keep Your Powder Dry.

  7. avatar Ralph says:

    Senators are to Big Banks what Fleas are to Great Danes.

    1. avatar Alan says:

      That might depend on the Balls Quotient of The Senate.

  8. avatar Hydguy says:

    Simple: any financial institution that does this should immediately and permanently lose all all FDIC insurance and must immediately return any money given to them by the government.
    Let’s see if they are really ‘too big to fail’.

    1. avatar Alan says:

      Additionally, bank management should be held liable for criminal prosecution.

  9. avatar Alan says:

    Now that warning by members of the U.S. Senate sounds rather interesting, particularly given the passing strange antics of some of our larger banks. Of course, the following question remains.
    1. Is that the will of The Senate?
    2. If it is, how might it be enforced?
    3. What might The House say?

  10. avatar Barry Hirsh says:

    Hmnph. ‘Seems simple t’ME.

    Get hip, or get lost.

    Yeah. That’ll work.

  11. avatar Alan says:

    For decades Americans voted for the diametric opposite of what washington has imposed. Washington is a monster -mash- graveyard smash at best in 2020. It is vital to say No to red flag law Stalinism-we support the complete–unabridged–shall not be infringed–archetype-truth–we also very much enjoy many of the perceptive wise sometimes hilarious commenters in this above-printed comment section-we agree-..however-.there is.. still -zero hope that Washington will straighten up and fly right-we must put our feet firmly on the neck of the frankinsteens- since our votes seem utterly disregarded in virtually every circumstance.God Bless .hoping against hope and all…

  12. avatar Melissa Dorn says:

    The theme of politics, taxes, the banking system, the financial crisis during the pandemic. This is so tiring. Already everyone is tired of this negative. And so I want to just remember simple everyday human problems, even if they are not significant for the universe, but mean a lot to each of us. For example, our education system. Has anyone wondered why students are given so much homework on subjects that they will never be useful in life. I thought and made the right decision. I turned to one of the services that I found on the site https://www.writingjudge.com/ and delegated tasks to them on subjects uninteresting to me. Now I will have more time to ponder the global problems of mankind and ponder how I can solve them)

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