Bank of America Confronted For Canceling Conservative Bank Accounts

News Image By Dan Hart/Washington Stand April 29, 2024
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Last week, a group of 15 state attorneys general sent a letter to the second largest bank in the U.S. demanding a report about its account policies and practices following a pattern of denied services and canceled accounts that appeared to target groups "for political and religious reasons."

The letter, led by Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach (R), also requests that Bank of America "update its terms of service to state that it doesn't discriminate against customers for their religious or political views or speech, and remove prohibitions on 'intolerance' and 'hate' from its online banking service agreement."

"Bank of America has a history of either denying ... requested banking services to organizations who have politically disfavored activities -- like gun companies or fossil fuel companies -- and it also has a history of debanking customers that it already had," Kobach told Family Research Council President Tony Perkins during Wednesday's edition of "Washington Watch." 

"There are some recent examples of this where Bank of America has ... closed accounts for Christian-based ministries. This is in violation of not only federal law, but it violates many of our state laws. Ironically for Bank of America, this is highly un-American."

As the letter further details, Bank of America also denied services to "contractors for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement" and "voluntarily cooperated with the FBI and U.S. Treasury to profile conservative and religious Americans as potential domestic terrorists."

Kobach went on to describe how Bank of America and other financial institutions involved in debanking tend to be coy when it comes to explaining why they deny or cancel services.

"When the bank takes away the account ... they don't say, 'Oh, we've taken away these services because you have Christian activity or you we don't like your political views,'" he explained. "They just take it away and, if anything, give a very generic statement like, 'Well, you don't meet our requirements for service.' ... When it happens in an individual instance, you might not know what's going on. But in the case of Bank of America, it's happened again and again and again. 

There is a common thread here that the debanked individuals and entities are either Christian or conservative. This pattern or practice has not only gotten the attorneys generals' attention, but also the attention of a House committee and Congress."

Joining Kobach's letter were the attorneys general for Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. The letter specifies that Bank of America deliver a report within 30 days regarding its "account-cancellation policies and practices" and whether it "considers a customer's speech or religious exercise ... as a component of those policies," along with other requests.

Kobach also commented that the debanking policies of Bank of America (and others such as JPMorgan) are not financially advantageous. "It's hurting them to be to become known as a bank that ... discriminates against a whole class of customers all across the country," he underscored.

The Kansas AG additionally emphasized that "a host of potential legal liability traps" would await Bank of America if they chose not to respond to the letter.

"If they don't, then ... each of the states involved would look at ... the instances of debanking that occurred ... and then look at the state laws that apply," he noted. "Each of us has a slightly different state consumer protection act, but all of us have that. 

And many of our consumer protection acts do apply to this type of debanking activity. In addition, there are federal laws that may or may not be enforced against Bank of America, and other individual states also have laws that are specifically targeted at taking away services from companies and individuals because of their political viewpoints."

Kobach concluded by urging any individual or organization who has been debanked to reach out to their state AG office if necessary.

"The first step is to ask the bank for an explanation. They probably won't get one, but they should ask. Second step, contact the attorney general of your state and let them know that this has happened to you so that we can be aware of it. That may tip the balance or that may be the catalyst for that state attorney general taking action against that bank."

Originally published at The Washington Stand

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