Senator Marco Rubio questioned JPMorgan Chase and Co. CEO Jamie Dimon on Tuesday about ‘politically motivated unbanking’ after the nation’s largest banking firm terminated the account of a conservative nonprofit organization .
According to the Florida Republican’s office, JPMorgan Chase recently terminated the bank account of the National Committee for Religious Freedom (NCRF), a 501(c)4 political action nonprofit organization, but the bank did not provide no warning or justification for termination, apparently not following its regular notice and appeal process.
Additionally, Mr. Rubio’s office said that when the NCRF attempted to resolve the issue, “Chase staff told the NCRF that they were prohibited from providing clarification, but that the decision could be reconsidered if the NCRF provided a list of its major donors and its decision-making criteria and due diligence process for its funding decisions.
Mr. Rubio sent a letter to Mr. Dimon raising concerns about the circumstances and requesting the bank’s rationale for terminating NCRF’s account.
“I have previously expressed my serious concern about politically motivated unbanning,” Mr. Rubio wrote. “Banking decisions should be made using unbiased risk standards to determine creditworthiness, not arbitrary political or ideological concerns.”
He continued: “As the big banks are often the instigators of this behavior and receive significant subsidies and protections from the government, I and many of my colleagues in the Senate have supported legislation that would hold companies, like yours. , responsible for such actions, including denying Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance to megabanks that choose to arbitrarily discriminate against creditworthy, legally operating organizations and individuals by denying them banking services. Taxpayers should not subsidize this kind of behavior.
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“I have no doubt that you will assure me again that it is a misunderstanding. But the regularity of this kind of behavior from your bank suggests otherwise. »
A JPMorgan spokesperson, when asked by The Washington Times about the senator’s concerns, said, “We have no comment on the letter.
“I can tell you, however, that we would not leave a client because of their political or religious beliefs. We fund more than 50,000 religious nonprofit organizations across America,” the spokesperson said.
Last month, Mr. Rubio and Senator Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota, sent a letter to Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael J. Hsu raising concerns about Americans losing access to banking services “because of their political affiliation or their beliefs”.
“Recently, reports have surfaced that the credit cards of Lori Flynn, wife of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, USA, retired, former national security adviser to President Trump, have been terminated by JPMorgan Chase & Co. .due to the bank’s concerns about the ‘reputational risk’ that affiliation with Ms. Flynn could bring to the company,” the GOP senators wrote.
“The bank has since claimed the determination was wrong and reinstated Ms Flynn’s account. However, regardless of whether the bank’s termination of Ms. Flynn’s credit cards was in fact in error, the possibility raised by this event that “reputational risk” could include the political views or backgrounds of clients of banking is of great concern to many Americans.
“If political opinions are considered a valid factor in determining a bank’s reputational risk for the purposes of determining access to credit, the banking services of millions of Americans could be put at risk.”
Republican lawmakers have said the Biden administration is “contributing” to blurring the legal landscape surrounding fair access to credit in the US financial system.
In January, they noted that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) suspended its publication of the “Fair Access to Financial Services” rule.
The rule would have established guidelines that major banks conduct individual risk assessments of customers and use unbiased standards to determine creditworthiness rather than making blanket determinations based on a customer’s class or categorical affiliation. .
Mr. Cramer, in response to the administration’s action, introduced legislation establishing specific rules prohibiting major banks and financial institutions from discriminating against legally operating people and businesses.
Republicans have also promised a crackdown on major financial institutions that refuse to provide banking services or loans to contractors who work for Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“They should not be allowed to withhold funds from otherwise creditworthy businesses with a federal contract and still receive federal support,” the lawmakers said. “This bill would remove Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insurance from companies that choose to do so.”
Nearly 10 years ago, congressional Republicans clashed with the Justice Department over a similar “Operation Choke Point,” which GOP investigators described in 2014 as “a thinly veiled ideological attack.” against industries that the Obama administration does not like, such as arms dealers and coal producers. .”