Home » GOP AGs put a major US bank on notice for alleged ‘de-banking’ of conservatives

GOP AGs put a major US bank on notice for alleged ‘de-banking’ of conservatives

by John Jefferson
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Over a dozen Republican attorneys general are warning a major U.S. bank against alleged practices of “de-banking” certain customers because of their religious or political views. 

In a letter obtained exclusively by Fox News Digital, Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach, along with 14 of his Republican colleagues told Bank of America CEO Brian T. Moynihan that the company “appears to be conditioning access to its services on customers having the bank’s preferred religious or political views.”

“Your discriminatory behavior is a serious threat to free speech and religious freedom, is potentially illegal, and is causing political and regulatory backlash,” the letter sent Monday states. “Your bank needs to be transparent with and assure us, its shareholders, and others that it will not continue to de-bank customers for their speech or religious exercise,” the AGs wrote. 

Media relations representative, Bill Halldin, denied the claims in a statement saying, “Religious beliefs are not a factor in any account-closing decision.”

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“We are proud to provide banking services to non-profit organizations affiliated with diverse faith communities throughout the United States,” he said. 

The AGs claim that Bank of America has previously denied services to gun manufacturers, distributors, and sellers, fossil-fuel producers, contractors for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and private prisons and related services.

NIGEL FARAGE ON HIS EFFORTS TO EXPOSE ‘DE-BANKING’

The letter cites recent news reports that the bank cooperated with the FBI and U.S. Treasury to profile conservative and religious Americans as potential domestic terrorists. 

“Bank of America’s practice of canceling the bank accounts of conservatives and even turning over information about customer’s purchases to federal law enforcement undermines free speech, religious freedom, and the right to privacy,” Kobach told Fox News Digital. 

“It’s discriminatory and likely illegal. As state attorneys general, we will vigorously defend the constitutional rights of all Americans when they are threatened by big business.”

WATCHDOG GROUP ACCUSES BANK OF AMERICA CEO OF USING BANK AS ‘POLITICAL CLUB’ AGAINST AMERICANS

Kobach holds a microphone

“Those agencies outrageously used innocuous information—such as whether someone shopped at outdoor stores, supported Trump, purchased religious texts, had conservative views on COVID-19 or immigration, or associated with groups like Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Research Council, and the Ruth Institute, which champion mainstream views on free speech, religious freedom, and life—to tar ordinary Americans as potential domestic terrorists,” the letter states. 

The letter also cites a report from the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Weaponization of the Federal Government which found that Bank of America “willingly participated in financial surveillance” and voluntarily shared confidential customer information without a warrant and without notifying its customers. 

“We are deeply concerned that Bank of America is willing to cooperate in the infringement of its customers’ constitutional and privacy rights to help federal law enforcement surveil and target millions of conservative Americans, many of whom live in our states,” the letter states. 

But Bank of America said that it “followed all applicable laws in our interactions with the Trump Administration’s Treasury Department and law enforcement. “

“These interactions began when the Trump Administration’s Treasury Department urgently gathered major banks and law enforcement on Jan. 15, 2021 and shared information regarding potential criminal activity that could disrupt the upcoming inauguration. We have cooperated with the committee as they evaluate whether the laws we complied with should be changed,” the company said.

A woman typing in her credit card information online.

The AGs wrote that “as attorneys general of our respective states, we take great interest in protecting a culture of free speech within our borders,” noting that Bank of America is the second-largest bank in the country and have nearly 15% of all domestic deposits. 

“You appear to be using this power to punish conservative and religious customers by handing their data over to federal law enforcement and even canceling their accounts. This not only undermines free speech and religious freedom, but also is potentially illegal and could lead to investigations, litigation, regulation, and political backlash,” they wrote. 

The group of AGs, which include Mississippi, Idaho, Iowa, Alabama, Utah, Texas, Montana, Virginia, Arkansas, South Carolina, South Dakota, Indiana, Missouri and Nebraska, asked that within 30 days of receipt, the bank provides them with a written report about their account-cancellation policies and practices, particularly regarding “risk tolerance,” “reputational risk,” “hate,” “intolerance,” and similar terms, and whether Bank of America considers a customer’s speech or religious exercise — or public perception or other groups’ perception of them — as a component of those policies. 

They also asked that the bank update its terms of service to state that it does not discriminate against customers for their religious or political views or speech, and support shareholder proposals protecting religious and political diversity.

Read the full article here

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