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23 GOP State Attorneys General Warn Firms to Stop Backing Efforts to 'De-Bank' Conservatives

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A group of almost two dozen state attorneys general have signed a letter telling major firms providing voting advice to corporate shareholders to stop backing efforts to "de-bank" conservatives. 

Republican Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird led 22 other state attorneys general in sending a letter to Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis, the two companies that control 97% of the proxy advisory services market, whose advice the AGs say shapes "the choices and activity of businesses and ultimately the United States' and global economy," according to The Daily Signal

The seven-page letter warns the companies against opposing shareholder resolutions that would hold financial institutions accountable for restricting services based on clients' religious and political beliefs. The top state law enforcement officers note that viewpoint discrimination comes with "legal liabilities," but so does "lying in publicly available policies and disclosures."

"We seek more transparency and written assurance that you will cease any practice that violates the law, including your duty to act in the best interest of the citizens of our States, or your stated policies on recommendations," the letter continued. 

"They have advised big banks to keep quiet about why they've closed people's bank accounts," Bird told the Daily Caller News Foundation. "We've seen banks targeting accounts for Second Amendment groups, like the NRA, or religious groups, including Christian nonprofits."

"They say they want transparency, but when it comes to the fact that some of the big banks are debanking conservatives or conservative causes, they don't want that transparency," Bird said. 

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slider img 2Banks often use "reputational risk" or "hate speech" policies to target customers based on politics, the letter states.

"Debanking also presents serious reputational risks. Even the appearance of politicized debanking can do serious financial harm. Many States are evaluating their relationships with banks and investment managers over concerns that those entities are denying service and capital to legal industries like firearms companies and fossil fuel producers," the AGs' letter advised. 

"This letter should not be necessary. Americans should not have to worry that they will be denied critical financial services because of their religious and political beliefs," the letter said.

As CBN News has reported over the last couple of years, multiple conservatives and their groups have been targeted by financial institutions at home and abroad.

Banking and financial services have become weaponized. Christian and conservative groups labeled 'high risk' can be denied financial services, and it's happening under the cover of federal banking laws.

Among the victims? Indigenous Advance Ministries, which helps orphans and widows in Africa. Its account was closed by Bank of America.

Responding to CBN News, Bank of America said, "Religious beliefs are not a factor in any account-closing decision," but that it was because of a side business of debt collection services run by the ministry.  

Family Council of Arkansas, which promotes traditional family values, was canceled by JPMorgan Chase. 

CBN News contacted JP Morgan Chase about the incident and they told us, "We would never discontinue a relationship because of religious or political affiliation, and we didn't with this client…We're not proud of how we handled communicating with this client about what we needed from them, and have apologized verbally and in writing."

And while JP Morgan Chase didn't give us a reason for the account closure either, they did say, "We are required by anti-money laundering laws to conduct customer due diligence."

The pro-family Ruth Institute lost its payment processor after being targeted as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center

"We received an email saying, 'We're not going to do business with you anymore,'" said Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute. "My colleague went right then and looked at our bank account and it was gone. The credit card processing was gone."

And what qualified The Ruth Institute as an alleged "hate group"? Morse says, "The dream of the Ruth Institute is that every child be welcomed into a loving home with their own mother and father married to each other."

Even the National Committee for Religious Freedom, a multi-faith organization headed by former U.S. senator and Religious Freedom Ambassador Sam Brownback, had its bank account closed by JPMorgan Chase. 

Wondering whether it was discrimination, the committee has set up a website called Chased Away. The group is encouraging people of faith to come forward if they've been denied service by a company or bank.

Banking expert Nick Anthony at the CATO Institute says federal law gives banks a myriad of excuses to cancel groups whose values present so-called "reputational risks." He adds the real culprit may also be federal regulators, who can pressure banks to cancel certain groups.

Anthony told CBN News, "Banks are deputized as de facto law enforcement investigators, and they face a very real consequence of missing anything. When banks have concerns about things like money laundering or suspicious source of funds or they don't like where the funds are going for any reason, they're prohibited from telling customers what the actual reason is. They're prohibited from telling people that they filed these reports to the government and now something has gone awry."

Unfortunately, Anthony expects the de-banking trend to continue until Congress finally changes the banking laws to protect people of faith. 

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of