Nearly two dozen Republican state attorney generals signed a public letter addressed to two major voting advisory firms asking them to treat all shareholders fairly and stop supporting their purported efforts to “debank” conservative clients.
Led by Iowa AG Brenna Bird, the letter sent this week to Glass, Lewis & Co. and Institutional Shareholder Services, Inc. — proxy services who provide recommendations to shareholders regarding corporate governance matters and voting decisions — expressed “deep concern” that the pair are “prioritizing certain environmental, social, and governance initiatives” that allegedly violate their contracts.
“Last year shareholders sought to hold financial institutions accountable for denying or restricting service to clients based on their political or religious beliefs through the resolution process,” the letter reads. “Politicized debanking harms businesses and their shareholders and undermines the freedom of every American to participate in the marketplace on equal footing.”
It continued, “Unfortunately, all available evidence shows that you oppose those resolutions—contrary to your claims to be apolitical and neutral.”
According to the letter, banks will cite “hate speech” or “reputational risk” as reasons to debank organizations or individuals. ISS and Glass Lewis reportedly recommended voting against resolutions aiming to hold corporations accountable for these policies, the letter stated.
“Indeed, your recommendations opposing those shareholder resolutions reflect the opposite
of your stated commitment to fairness and diversity,” the letter said. “Viewpoint discrimination has its own legal liabilities—but so does lying in publicly available policies and disclosures. Your lack of transparency is troubling. And your voting recommendations on debanking proposals may breach your legal obligations.”
Attorney generals from Florida, Indiana, Montana, Alaska, Kansas, Louisiana, Texas, were among the signers.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a grassroots conservative legal advocacy group, shared information with Bird’s office about data they’ve gathered based on cases they are representing of instances where alleged debanking has occurred.
“This is a story we usually get — usually it’s under very suspicious circumstances where there’s no good reason for it, lots of times clients who get debanked have been banking with the bank for many, many years, and just out of the blue they get told they are no longer going to do business with you for vague reasons,” AFP’s senior vice president of corporate engagement Jeremy Tedesco told Fox News Digital in an interview Friday.
Bank of America, one of ADF’s clients, banned the accounts of the Christian-nonprofit Indigenous Advance in April.
The organization claims it is engaged in charitable efforts for orphaned children in Uganda through various partnerships. They were warned without explanation by Bank of America that the organization was “operating in a business type we have chosen not to service at Bank of America” and would be closed within 30 days.
In May, Bank of America sent another letter stating its “risk profile no longer aligns with the bank’s risk tolerance.”
The ministry — which believes in pro-life values and that marriage is between one man and one woman on its website — reportedly maintained two accounts with the bank since 2015.
Bank of America defended its actions, claiming the accounts were closed due to its “internal debt collection policy” that does not support that service. The bank declined to provide a copy of the policy to Fox News Digital.
“We are proud to provide banking services to non-profit organizations affiliated with diverse faith communities throughout the United States,” bank spokesman Bill Halldin said in a statement. “Religious beliefs are not a factor in any account-closing decision.”
The effort by the state attorneys general comes as “debanking” has become a more frequent complaint.
Nigel Farage, former leader of Brexit, had his account closed by Coutts, a private bank affiliated with British banking group NatWest, in July. Last year, JPMorgan Chase closed the bank account of the National Committee for Religious Freedom, a newly established nonprofit led by Sam Brownback, the former senator and U.S. ambassador.
“We think banks should provide their services on a viewpoint neutral basis, and not get caught up in some of the cultural wars that are going on,” Tedesco said.
Fox News reached out to ISS and Glass, Lewis & Co. for comment.
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