Nation’s Two Largest Banks Learn That “Turnabout Is Fair Play”

Sep. 12, 2018
by Bob Adelmann

When Brandee McHale, head of Corporate Citizenship (i.e., damage control) at Citibank, went to see Louisiana’s State Bond Commission to find out why her bank was frozen out of the bidding on a $600 million highway improvement project near Baton Rouge in August, she was bluntly informed by state Representative Blake Miguez:

I know you’re from New York. This is Louisiana. This is not California. This is not Canada. [Your bank’s policies are] an infringement on 2nd Amendment Constitutional rights in Louisiana.

Miguez was referring to policies instituted by Citi and Bank of America following the Parkland, Florida shooting in February where 17 innocents were murdered by a gunman. Just a few weeks after that Valentine’s Day shooting, Citigroup announced that the bank would no longer do business with any retailers offering high-capacity magazines for sale, or selling firearms to anyone who hasn’t already passed a background check or is under the age of 21.

In April, Bank of America followed suit by stopping its lending to any gun manufacturer making “military style rifles.”

Banks like Citi, BofA, Wells Fargo and the like have been pushing people around, taking advantage of them, and trampling on their precious rights for years. Following this move by Louisiana’s Bond Commission, will other state government agencies turn on those elite banks as well?

Apparently the banks never got the memo: Operation Choke Point is dead. Obama started it. Trump killed it. It’s been dead for a year.

But the anti-gun ideology remains. All dressed up to look like an attempt to reduce fraud in the money-lending business, OCP was a blatant attack on the very oxygen gun dealers needed to stay in business. Writing in the Wall Street Journal at the time (2014), William Isaac said:

It is becoming clear that the real goal of the program … is to target entire industries deemed undesirable [by the Obama administration] by putting regulatory pressure on the banks that serve them….

The [Obama] Justice Department and several regulators have pressured banks to close accounts with these businesses – on a sweeping, industry-wide basis – without any proof of wrongdoing.

By choking off their access to bank services, the government [under Obama] is attempting to shut these industries down….

Frank Keating of the American Bankers Association complained at the time that Operation Choke Point “is asking banks to identify customers” who are “simply doing something [Obama] government officials don’t like. Banks then “choke off those customers’ access to financial services, shutting down their accounts.”

And it worked, until it was repealed by the Trump administration last August. At the time Isaac was writing, more than 80 venders and dealers had had their accounts closed by banks that didn’t want to deal with the threat of regulators applying sanctions under OPC.

Now, in the instant case at least, the tables were turned. Will this be a harbinger of a growth of backbone by other state agencies being wined and dined by elite banks bidding for other projects? Republican Louisiana Senator John Kennedy thinks so:

The Second Amendment won and I’m d—n proud of the Louisiana Bond Commission. I can tell you [that] this is going to go out nationwide, what our people have done … we are going to take this fight to every state.

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Sources:

DailySignal.com: How Louisiana Stood Up to the Anti-Gun Corporate Elite

BOB BARR: Louisiana fights back against anti-Second Amendment banks

TheAdvocate.com: Louisiana commission blocks two banks from $600 million road plan because of gun sales policies

Background on Obama’s Operation Choke Point operation

The Wall Street Journal: Don’t Like an Industry? Send a Message to its Bankers

Politico.com: Justice Department to end Obama-era ‘Operation Choke Point’

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