Any other year, taking money from an industry that’s conducting barred activity would be called corruption. Not in election years, though, and not when it comes to banks and guns.
Congressional Democrats are holding a fundraiser Aug. 24 for Democratic nominee Joe Biden that’s headlined, “Virtual Conversation on the Future of Antitrust,” according to Politico. The event will be hosted by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and is being feted as “a chance to talk about technology and antitrust with Sen. Klobuchar,” in the invitation.
Sen. Klobuchar is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee and Rep. Cicilline chairs of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee. That raised eyebrows with Politico. Both have taken a “get tough” approach with tech and social media giants, but it seems they’re taking the edge off that approach.
Change Name, Focus
Since Rep. Ciciline joined the slate, the fundraiser went from being a “Virtual Conversation on the Future of Antitrust,” to just being a “Virtual Conversation,” where a modest $10,000 donation buys a spot as a “chair” of the fundraiser and even a paltry $250 get the “supporters” cheap seat. That’s peculiar because those donating to this fundraiser seem to have an interest in keeping the government oversight out of their books and not looking at antitrust activity.
Politico’s Zachary Warmbrodt wrote:
Contributions from individuals affiliated with the six largest lenders total $907,216 for Biden and $293,434 for Trump, according to a POLITICO review of campaign finance data. Biden has a significant fundraising advantage at every one of the banks — JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.
Warmbrodt suggests the banks are betting Biden’s better for the country, even if his policies are worse for the banks. Here’s why the firearm industry finds this peculiar.
Democrats are happy to outsource their failed and rebuked Operation Choke Point scandal that sought to discriminate against members of the firearm industry under the direction of the Obama Administration Department of Justice.
Instead, antigun politicians like Sen. Klobuchar and Congressman Cicilline are happy to farm out the political dirty work to banks to enact their own discriminatory policies to deny the industry access to financial services.
The fundraiser went from being a discussion of antitrust to just a discussion of when the banks got involved. At the same time, two of the supposedly most-strident antitrust politicians are suddenly mum on banks especially when Citigroup, Bank of America and other banks all adopt similar policies to box out an entire industry from accessing financial services. Wells Fargo is reportedly severing ties with those in the firearm industry.
They’re denying access to loans and services simply because these businesses make firearms that law-abiding Americans want to purchase for lawful purposes. Faceless corporate executives are wielding their boardroom authority to unlawfully discriminate against the firearm industry.
What’s more, they’re doing it even after they’ve gladly accepted taxpayer bailouts when these banks were “too big to fail” and use taxpayer money and taxpayer-funded resources even today to insure their holdings and operate their businesses.
Pulling Their Punches
This is why the fundraiser is raising a collective eyebrow. Two politicians who are vocal on antitrust issues are suddenly silent on banking antitrust activity when it suits their political agenda and that of their preferred presidential candidate. They don’t want to take jabs or expose the inconvenient truth that banks are doing the bidding of an antigun agenda that was found to be illegal when it was proffered by the Obama administration.
The same Operation Choke Point discrimination is happening now, only it’s being carried out under the guise of “reputational risk,” even though this is an industry that contributed $6.75 billion in taxes last year. Those taxes, along with the taxes of more than 100 million gun owners, insures these banks and allows them to stay in business, under a federal charter.
To make it clear enough that no one feels they’re reading the fine print of a mortgage agreement, this is what’s happening. Banks are donating big money to an antigun presidential candidate. Politicians who are supposed to be their watchdogs have no issue with them carrying out unlawful antitrust activities because it suits their antigun political agenda, so they won’t talk about it.
After all, banks are doing exactly what the Obama administration’s Department of Justice did and was slapped for it by Congress. So, they’ll remain quiet, let them discriminate and collect the checks.
In any other arena, this is called corruption and hypocrisy. In elections, this is called politics.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.